The recent discovery of a manuscript, which had lain buried for over a century in the archives of publishers, Frederick Warne and Co, has forced the literary world to re-evaluate the life and works of the popular children's author, Beatrix Potter.
The document, originally penned by Potter in 1909, appears to be the final draft of an unpublished story, which Alice Derwent - Potter expert and head curator at The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction in Cumbria - describes as being: " a remarkable and dramatic departure from the nursery favourites for which Beatrix Potter is best known".
In keeping with the author's traditional approach, the manuscript conveys a story featuring a cast of anthropomorphic animal characters, which has been skilfully illustrated with delicately hand painted watercolours. However, this is where the similarity with Potter’s previous work ends.
On reviewing the manuscript for The Times Literary Supplement, its editor, Sir Peter Stothard, said: "although the discovery of a brand new Beatrix Potter story is undoubtedly an exciting find, The Tale of Boris the Badger Buggerer is quite frankly the most depraved tome it has ever been my misfortune to read. I did consider myself to be a well read and broad minded man of the world, but I'm afraid I found the illustrations to be disgustingly explicit, and the chapter detailing how Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle came by her name actually made me physically sick. I'd never even heard of the verb 'tiggy' before."
Contrary to what the manuscript’s title suggests, it's narrative chronicles the debauched antics of a depraved Badger named Boris, who has a strong predilection for buggery - as opposed to detailing the adventures of someone named Boris, who possesses a penchant for Badger abuse. Mr. Stothard described the sexually explicit and extremely violent story line as being: "a cross between A Clockwork Orange and American Psycho – only gorier."
"This unholy filth makes the Maquis de Sade look like – well – like Beatrix Potter, before the discovery of this manuscript. ": he concluded.
Alice Derwent also expressed her "considerable surprise" on first reading the new manuscript. Speaking from her hospital bed this morning, Miss Derwent said: "I'm afraid I lost consciousness when I reached the bit about Jemima Puddle-Duck and the golden shower. In hindsight, perhaps I should have given the manuscript a quick scan in private, before the public reading in front of the Bowness-on-Windermere Mother and Toddler Group."
"The Doctors tell me that, with extensive counselling, the children should eventually recover back to some semblance of normality": she continued. "Although many will still harbour a lifelong fear of Bunny Rabbits I'm afraid."
As well as impacting the literary world, and the psychological well being of a handful of disturbed toddlers, The Tale of Boris the Badger Buggerer has also left the lucrative Beatrix Potter merchandising industry reeling, with Wedgewood Potteries today announcing an urgent recall of their latest batch of 'Peter Rabbit and Friends Christening Sets'.
A spokesman for the pottery explained: "you're normally quite safe with Beatrix Potter, so we sort of skipped a lot of the usual QA process with the new designs, and didn't bother to properly proof read them. Unfortunately, adopting this approach has led to the worst cock-up since the whole 'My First Sleeping Detective Egg Cup' fiasco."