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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Cemetery clue to Potter animals
Peter Rabbit copyright Frederick Warne & Co., 1902, 2001
Peter was recently revamped (right) for the 21st century
Beatrix Potter's lovable childrens' characters may have had a macabre inspiration, according to new research.

James Mackay, of the Friends of Brompton Cemetery, west London, has said that an investigation of the cemetery's computerised records brought up a startling number of names of Beatrix Potter's creations.

When I found a Peter Rabbett was listed in the original burial book, I thought this can't just be a coincidence

James Mackay
Names on headstones included Mr Nutkin, Mr McGregor, Jeremiah Fisher, Tommy Brock - and even a Peter Rabbett.

"There may not be a Mrs Tiggy-Winkle or a Jemima Puddle-Duck in the cemetery, but I found lots of McGregors, a Jeremiah Fisher, a Brock and someone with that unusual single 'd' spelling of Tod," Mr Mackay told the London Evening Standard on Friday.

"Then when I found a Peter Rabbett was listed in the original burial book, I thought this can't just be a coincidence," he said.

Beatrix Potter was strongly identified with the Lake District in the north of England, where she lived on a farm in Sawrey from 1903.

But she was born in Kensington in 1866 and did not visit the Lake District until she was 16.

The author is known to have had a pet rabbit called Peter - but any more inside information on the inspiration for her character's names went with her to her grave in 1943.


Judy Taylor, a biographer of Beatrix Potter and collector of her letters, said she was interested in the theory.

"I think it's a delightful idea and though I have no more information on it I think it's perfectly possible.

"Nobody has ever come up with a suggestion about where Beatrix Potter got the names for her characters from and this one is enchanting.

"The dates on the tombstones are old enough for her to have seen them and she never wrote anything about the inspiration for the names."

See also:

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11 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Dan Dare sets course for TV stardom
23 Aug 98 | Entertainment
Fighting Peter's pirates
23 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Second-hand Potter bonanza
19 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Potter manuscript fails to sell
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