In 1901, Miss Potter sent her manuscript of The Tale of Peter Rabbit to at least six publishers only to have it refused by each of them. She made the decision to print the book herself whilst continuing the search for a publisher who would issue the book in accordance with her wishes. She arranged for an initial print run of 250 copies of her book to be privately printed (this first issue had a flat spine when bound). These were on sale by December 1901 and in January 1902 she ordered another 200 copies, which contained the same illustrations as the first print run, but had a few textual modifications, plus a rounded, rather than flat, spine. The PPL has a copy of this first edition, first issue (shown here) in incredibly nice condition, which was given as part of the Edith Wetmore collection of children’s books in the 1950s.
Later, Frederick Warne & Co. agreed to publish the book for Miss Potter, but wished to have all the illustrations in colour. In order to achieve this 11 of the illustrations were removed and the text was edited again. Some of the text which was removed for the published edition was later used in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, (1904). Due to the limited print run of the privately printed edition of Peter Rabbit, copies of this book are now very rare indeed. One of the privately printed copies was owned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who, “had a copy for his children and [he] has a good opinion of the story and words.”