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Newly discovered Beatrix Potter story to be published 100 years later

An unpublished story, written more than a century ago by British children's author Beatrix Potter, has been found at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. "The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots" will be published in September.

Penguin Random House publisher Jo Hanks said on Tuesday that the tale about "a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life" was found two years ago.

Hanks discovered the 1914 manuscript in the Victoria and Albert Museum's Potter archive, after finding a reference to the tale in an out-of-print literary history of the author.

"Potter fully intended to publish it. She'd written it twice, rewritten it, polished the manuscript and then had it typeset and started to lay it out in a proof dummy," Hanks told BBC radio on Tuesday.

The outbreak of World War One and married life meant, however, that Potter became preoccupied with her farming business, the publisher said.

"I think it's the best of Beatrix Potter. There's humor, there's rebellious characters. During the story we meet a couple of interesting villains," Hanks added.

The new story also features an older version of Peter Rabbit, who went on to become Potter's best-known protagonist, as well as Mrs Tiggywinkle the hedgehog.

Penguin Random House will publish the newly discovered book in September to coincide with what would have been Potter's 150th birthday. Quentin Blake, best known for his work in Roald Dahl's children's books, will provide the illustrations.

"It seemed almost incredible when, early in 2015, I was sent the manuscript of a story by Beatrix Potter, one which had lain unpublished for a hundred years and which, with the exception of a single drawing, she had never illustrated," Blake said.

Potter, who published her first book in 1902, remains one of the world's most popular children's authors. More than 45 million copies of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" have been sold in 36 different languages, while two million copies of her "little books" are sold around the globe every year.

ksb/nm (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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