A corridor in the V&A Museum is lined with small pencil drawings, showing a young Beatrix Potter experimenting with the ideas which would form her later books.
The V&A museum holds the world’s largest collection of her works, so this is just a small fragment of what’s in their archive, but it focuses mainly on her drawing skills.
The display shows how Potter responded to the world of fairies and fairy tales and the inspiration she took, from the natural world around her and the work of other authors and illustrators. What’s particular interesting about the exhibition is not just the early emerging ideas of characters we now find so familiar, but the explanatory cards showing the inspirations behind her creations.
It gives you an insight into the depths she must have been exposed to in forming her own fantasy worlds.
The Toads’ Tea Party – around 1903 — probably looks rather familiar to Alice in Wonderland fans, but also features in her 1905 manuscript for nursery rhymes.
Potter also composed several versions of Cinderella, and this drawing is a delight, showing the rabbits, mice, lizards and rat drawing the pumpkin coach.
Mrs Tiggy-Winkle in part finished composition has that curious modern appeal of a schematic diagram.
The V&A website says the exhibition closed last month, but the notice in the display says it’s open for another year, closing in November 2020.
It’s up on the 2nd floor, near to the jewellery and theatre display rooms.