Renowned children's author, Beatrix Potter, famous for her classic "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and other stories, who passed away in 1943, has recently been brought into the spotlight. The late author is facing with allegations that her cherished tales might have originated from African slave narratives.
Dr. Emily Zobel Marshall, a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and a scholar in Postcolonial theory, has sent ripples through the literary community. She posits that Potter's beloved stories possibly owe their roots to "Brer Rabbit," a narrative that can be traced back to pre-colonial Africa, Fox News reported.
Marshall, in an article published on May 19 in The Conversation, expressed, "Her tales undoubtedly owe a debt to the Brer Rabbit stories, told by enslaved Africans on American plantations, a fact that needs full recognition."
Explaining further, she detailed how Brer Rabbit, a clever trickster, was known for outsmarting his stronger animal foes by using intellect over strength. Conversely, Peter Rabbit is fondly recognized for his blue coat and a penchant for mischief.
Marshall highlighted that Potter's efforts to "divert readers from her sources are problematic." Despite the perception of the books as staples of British culture, she suggests they are essentially tales reflecting the "resistance and survival strategies experienced by enslaved individuals on American plantations."
The "Peter Rabbit" series isn't the only one that has been scrutinized by academics.
Earlier this year, Roald Dahl's classic works also made headlines globally after Puffin Publishing decided to revise certain character descriptions, omit references to characters being overweight, and introduce gender-neutral language.
For instance, Augustus Gloop, a notably plump character in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," is now referred to as "enormous," and Mrs. Twit from "The Twits" is simply described as "beastly," instead of "ugly and beastly."