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Synopsis

The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is a children's book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter. It was published by Frederick Warne & Co. in October 1905. Mrs. Tiggy-winkle is a hedgehog washerwoman who lives in a tiny cottage in the fells of the Lake District. A child named Lucie happens upon the cottage and stays for tea. The two deliver freshly laundered clothing to the animals and birds in the neighbourhood. Potter thought the book would be best enjoyed by girls, and, like most girls' books of the period, it is set indoors with a focus on housework.
Potter's pet hedgehog, Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, and Kitty MacDonald, a Scottish washerwoman, were the inspirations for the eponymous heroine. Lucie Carr, a child friend of Potter's, was the model for the fictional Lucie. Potter's Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny make cameo appearances in the illustrations. The Newlands Valley and the surrounding fells are the sources for the backgrounds in the illustrations.
Mrs. Tiggy-winkle has been described as one of Potter's most positive creations, but critics consider Lucie an artistic failure. Although Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is set in an identifiable place and time period, the tale is mythologized by reaching back to an age when household chores were performed manually and without the aid of modern mechanical inventions. The simple dwellings, rustic pathways, and stone fences enhance the tale's timeless aspect and suggest an unchanging countryside and its way of life.
Mrs. Tiggy-winkle became a popular character and the subject of considerable merchandise over the decades including nursery ware and porcelain figurines. The tale has been published in braille and the Initial Teaching Alphabet, and has been translated into French, German, and Dutch. In 1971, Mrs. Tiggy-winkle became a character performed by Sir Frederick Ashton in the Royal Ballet film, The Tales of Beatrix Potter. In 1993, the tale was adapted to animation and telecast as an episode of the BBC series, The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends.

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