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Not currently on display at the V&A

I saw a ship a-sailing

Drawing
ca.1905 (drawn)
Artist/Maker

Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) is one of the world's best-loved children's authors and illustrators. She wrote the majority of the twenty-three Original Peter Rabbit Books between 1901 and 1913. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Frederick Warne, 1902) is her most famous and best-loved tale.

On this sheet Potter has written out the nursery rhyme ‘I saw a ship a-sailing’, adding her own notes and ideas for illustrations. The captain is a guinea pig, the pilot a rat, the sailors are mice, and the passengers are rabbits. Potter noted on the sheet following the end of the rhyme:

‘All of which will have to be carefully drawn, but I think the words are lovely. Just imagine the white mice letting down the bags of comfits into the hold!’

According to the Beatrix Potter scholar Leslie Linder, the sheet was given to Marjorie Moore, the daughter of Potter’s friend and former governess, Annie Moore. The rhyme may have been intended for a book of rhymes that Potter worked on in 1904 and 1905 with the hope that it would be published. Her publisher (Frederick Warne & Co.) was keen to keep up her successful stream of original tales and after the death of Norman Warne, Beatrix’s editor and fiancé, in August 1905, the book was put to one side. Much later, in 1917, a developed version of the 1905 book of rhymes was published: Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes. ‘I saw a ship a-sailing’ does not appear, however.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
pen and ink over pencil on paper
Brief Description
Illustrated version of the nursery rhyme 'I saw a ship a-sailing' by Beatrix Potter, ca.1905; Linder Bequest cat. no. LB.1065.
Physical Description
Illustrated verses written on a folded sheet. On the first recto sheet a drawing of a ship and verses beginning 'I saw a ship a-sailing...'; on the first verso sheet a drawing of mice sailors on a ship's deck and some rigging with a verse beginning 'And 4 and 20 sailors...'; on the second verso sheet drawings of of a guinea pig captain and rat pilot o na ship, with the words 'The captain was a guinea-pig - The pilot was a rat.'; on the second recto sheet a drawing of rabbit passengers embarking on a ship, with words beginning 'And the passengers were rabbits...'
Dimensions
  • Sheet height: 179mm
  • Sheet width: 225mm
Style
Production typeUnique
Credit line
Linder Bequest [plus object number; written on labels on the same line as the object number]
Object history
Acquired by the V&A from Leslie Linder (1904-1973) in 1973 as part of the Linder Bequest, a collection of ca. 2150 watercolours, drawings, literary manuscripts, correspondence, books, photographs, and other memorabilia associated with Beatrix Potter and her family.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) is one of the world's best-loved children's authors and illustrators. She wrote the majority of the twenty-three Original Peter Rabbit Books between 1901 and 1913. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Frederick Warne, 1902) is her most famous and best-loved tale.



On this sheet Potter has written out the nursery rhyme ‘I saw a ship a-sailing’, adding her own notes and ideas for illustrations. The captain is a guinea pig, the pilot a rat, the sailors are mice, and the passengers are rabbits. Potter noted on the sheet following the end of the rhyme:



‘All of which will have to be carefully drawn, but I think the words are lovely. Just imagine the white mice letting down the bags of comfits into the hold!’



According to the Beatrix Potter scholar Leslie Linder, the sheet was given to Marjorie Moore, the daughter of Potter’s friend and former governess, Annie Moore. The rhyme may have been intended for a book of rhymes that Potter worked on in 1904 and 1905 with the hope that it would be published. Her publisher (Frederick Warne & Co.) was keen to keep up her successful stream of original tales and after the death of Norman Warne, Beatrix’s editor and fiancé, in August 1905, the book was put to one side. Much later, in 1917, a developed version of the 1905 book of rhymes was published: Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes. ‘I saw a ship a-sailing’ does not appear, however.

Bibliographic References
  • Hobbs, Anne Stevenson, and Joyce Irene Whalley, eds. Beatrix Potter: the V & A collection : the Leslie Linder bequest of Beatrix Potter material : watercolours, drawings, manuscripts, books, photographs and memorabilia. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985.p.121; no.1065Hobbs, Anne Stevenson, and Joyce Irene Whalley, eds. Beatrix Potter: the V & A collection: the Leslie Linder bequest of Beatrix Potter material: watercolours, drawings, manuscripts, books, photographs and memorabilia. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985. p.121; no.1065
  • Taylor, Judy, Joyce Irene Whalley, Anne Stevenson Hobbs, Elizabeth M Battrick. Beatrix Potter 1866-1943: the Artist and Her World. 1987. London: Frederick Warne & Co.pp.58-59; no.119 (last page reproduced)Taylor, Judy, Joyce Irene Whalley, Anne Stevenson Hobbs, Elizabeth M Battrick. Beatrix Potter 1866-1943: the Artist and Her World. 1987. London: Frederick Warne & Co. pp.58-59; no.119 (last page reproduced)
Other Number
LB.1065 - Linder Bequest catalogue no.
Collection
Library Number
BP.879

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record createdAugust 25, 2016
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