happy birthday beatrix, or, cornelius learns a lesson


Today is Beatrix Potter’s 143rd birthday!!

I’m a huge fan and sucker for anything Beatrix related — books, china and pottery, apparel, figurines, stuffed animals, stickers, stationery, you name it. I’m so obsessed that I even named our dining room after one of my fave BP books. While other normal people decorate their dining rooms with sophisticated window treatments and/or floral centerpieces, ours boasts “Roly Poly Pudding” in blue and green stand up letters.

I can’t help it, really. Just seeing those three words makes me deeply happy. They’re adorable, delicious, so very British. And if any of our dinner guests misbehave, we can always roll them up in a pudding (mmwwwaahahahahaha)!

The Roly-Poly Pudding was the original name for this tale, first published in 1908. It’s all about the time Tom Kitten finds himself confronted under the attic floorboards by two very large rats, Samuel Whiskers and his wife, Anna Maria. They decide to butter him up and roll him in dough to make a delicious pudding. Roly poly, roly poly! The character of Samuel was based on Beatrix’s own fancy rat, Sammy, whom she describes as “the intelligent pink-eyed representative of a persecuted (but irrepressible) race and affectionate little friend, and most accomplished thief.” Irrepressible indeed, as he somehow got the book renamed in 1926. Typical rat.

Cornelius (licking his chops) convinces Kitty to re-enact the famous rolling scene.

Have you ever eaten a roly-poly pudding? It’s commonly known as Jam Roly-Poly, a simple dessert consisting of jam spread over dough, which is rolled up and baked. Celebrate Miss Potter’s birthday by making your own Jam Roly-Poly (recipe here). 

 photo by Chico68.

For the full effect, drown it in warm custard.

photo by Sandy49.

The animated version of The Tale of Samuel Whiskers can be found in three parts on YouTube (adorable, adorable). I’ve embedded the best part, where Tom gets rolled in the dough. If you prefer to watch it from the beginning, click here.

Happy Birthday, Beatrix!

Mosaic by lillipops.


Kitty gets the last roll!


                                      ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

24 thoughts on “happy birthday beatrix, or, cornelius learns a lesson

  1. For Americans who might be skeeved by the inclusion of suet (I’m not one of them), it seems to me that “self-rising flour” + suet is probably = to BISQUICK. Although in that case, I’d replace the water with milk, since that’s a standard Bisquick instruction. I may have to try it that way and report back.

    For Americans who are NOT skeeved by suet, you ought to know that you might have to ask for it at the butcher. And that “suet for birds” usually costs less than “suet for cooking”, even though it’s the same damn thing.


  2. It would be interesting to see if Bisquick works! Whenever I see a British recipe calling for suet, I usually substitute Crisco, though lard would probably work, too. Do report back if you make a roly poly!!


  3. Oh so much adorableness and goodness and joy here. I’m so happy to celebrate this birthday with you — I hope Kelly makes the roly poly — it’s a bit muggy for cooking treats, so I think I’ll celebrate reading a few of the books.

    And I’m so relieved and happy that you like Miss Potter. I was starting to feel a bit no-standards with my love for movie/musical takes on Secret Garden and Little Women. Maybe I’ll also have to celebrate by watching that again!


  4. A couple of years ago I picked up a little circular table with two matching child-size chairs at a yard sale, with Peter Rabbit emblazoned on the table top. 😀


  5. You, no-standards? Are you crazy? What a silly bear :). I would trust your taste and judgment in a heartbeat. Maybe we can get Kelly to bake some roly poly and send it to us . . .


  6. Oh man. If we hadn’t made peanut butter cookies last night…I mean, DROOL. I love anything custard-y.

    I really want to purchase — to read with the girls — the complete B. Potter tales. There’s a beautiful authorized edition out there. I’ve seen it. Need to save up my pennies. They NEED to hear *all* those stories, not just the two or three little books I have sitting around.



  7. Yes, you simply MUST get the complete set, and then read the tales in order. I think these books should be part of every child’s home library. In England, they put warm custard on almost everything! It’s delicious, but also compensates for some of the drier cakes they make. 🙂


  8. Thanks for this post. I tend to focus on her illustrations in my memories and, I think, forget the elements of silly and ridiculousness (??) in the humor of her stories.

    I made it to her house when I went to Britain years ago, and it looks JUST like her books.


  9. I love Beatrix Potter too! I love how there is always food in her stories. *heart*

    I don’t remember The Roly-Poly Pudding anymore though. :o( I guess it didn’t stick because I don’t like cats or rats. But I do want to eat a real roly-poly pudding!

    Into the Wardrobe


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