Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Tale of Pigling Bland (1913)

I've been reading Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Pigling Bland (1913) today, surprised that I don't remember it from my childhood given how much I know my mom loves the Peter Rabbit stories. In the picture to the left, Pigling Bland is being given a license permitting him and his brother Alexander to go to the market in Lancashire. To make a long story (well, not really--it's a children's book) short, Pigling Bland loses his brother, winds up in the wrong county, meets a "lovely little black Berkshire pig" named Pig-Wig and escapes with her from Mr. Piperson's kitchen. While trying to get back to the bridge that marks the county boundary, the pair are stopped by a grocer, who realizes there is a reward posted for Pig-Wig's disappearance. This grocer figures that a pig with a walking stick can't escape very quickly, but while he goes to consult with a local ploughman the two pigs run like mad for the bridge and safety. It's a strange story, to say the least, one that Alison Lurie has argued (in Don't Tell the Grown-ups: Subversive Children's Literature (1990)) serves to stand in for Potter's own marriage and move to the country over her parents' objections in 1913.

You can find a host of Pigling Bland related merchandise, etc. on the interweb. One of the more interesting sites I found concerned the effort to turn The Tale of Pigling Bland into a musical last year. It appeared at the Toronto Fringe Festival, directed by Marc Richard with a book and lyrics by Suzy Conn and music by Mitchell Kitz. You can read about the production here. I wish I'd seen it...

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