Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice has an interesting history. The inspiration for the story came from two mice caught in a trap and a doll’s house which was being built for her publisher’s niece.

What happens in The Tale of Two Bad Mice?

The story tells of two mice named Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca who move into a doll’s house and try to eat the toy food, which looks so appetising. When they discover it’s inedible, ‘those mice set to work to do all the mischief they could – especially Tom Thumb!’ They start to destroy parts of the house and make off with some of the furniture! Later in the story they pay their debts by leaving a crooked sixpence in a Christmas stocking and cleaning the house each morning. The story concludes that they were ‘not so very, very naughty after all’ – what do you think?

How did Beatrix Potter create the illustrations?

Beatrix Potter kept the two mice she found in the trap and drew the mice that appear in the story from observing them in their cage. She drew the doll’s house from photographs her publisher provided. She even received a delivery of toy food from the famous toy shop Hamleys so she could capture the food accurately! Throughout the book you can see the level of detail that Potter included in the illustrations, which are drawn from a mouse-eye perspective.

Potter began writing The Tale of Two Bad Mice on holiday and worked incredibly closely with her publisher, Norman Warne, to produce the story. Published in 1904, it was immediately successful and critically well-received.