The Bizarre Bondage Of Beatrix Potter: or The Proof is in the Rolypoly Pudding

THE SAFEWORD IS FURCADIA

Pop culture historians know that the origin of the contemporary Furry culture were fans of “Funny Animal Comics”, but while we generally aren’t shocked that modern Furries are hecking pervy, what if I told you that the fetish fodder woven into those plush suits went all the way to the root?

Meet Beatrix Potter: Late Victorian to Edwardian era mycologist, illustrator, and generally remembered as beloved children’s book author. You probably grew up with at least some familiarity with the Tale of Peter Rabbit (all her kids books followed one animal in human clothes or another) or the other adorably named, folksy very British pastel mammals and birds. I had a complete run of her children’s works, printed hard cover with dust jackets, printed to be about the side of an adult’s hand, with a nice display box.

This isn’t a story where we talk about how she also had a second trade in making BDSM porn, like the explicitly kinky creator of Superman. Beatrix Potter’s other identity was a thwarted by sexism, but outside of her kid’s books, she was merely talented botanist who studied mushrooms (and then after a land conservationist). No, Miss Potter put her kinky themes front and centre: a fascination with authority figures seeking to punish their naughty charges; clothes being shredded, lost and torn; and captivity in tight spaces and scenarios

And there’s nowhere more blatant than “The Tale of Samuel Whiskers”

Given the alternative title of The Rolypoly Pudding, although the book’s named for the male antagonist, the story is about Tom, the kitten, getting lost up the chimney, captured, stripped, tied up and prepared in an out casing of dough, and almost eaten by a pair of rat-burglars.

All while his month and aunt search for him and his kitten sisters with lines of dialogue like, “I will help you to find him; and whip him too!

Child me found this book gave her a very funny feeling. Like many victims of child abuse, I didn’t find the fixation on how “misbehaving” Beatrix Potter’s characters are anything other than horrifying, but the hog tied, immobilization of the protagonist was lurid.

All in a minute she rushed upon Tom Kitten, and before he knew what was happening—

His coat was pulled off, and he was rolled up in a bundle, and tied with string in very hard knots.

Anna Maria did the tying. The old rat watched her and took snuff. When she had finished, they both sat staring at him with their mouths open.

Some of this can be passed off as a more Tom & Jerry style excuse for funny predicaments and exaggerated violence, and the more casual attitude Victorians had to beating children, and for that matter, giving children stories where anthropomorphic animals discuss eating each other as a background detail. But, good lord, the absurd predicament of being bound in twine and made into a human… well, anthropomorphic cat pastry in very lovingly fixated on detail.

Seriously, Miss Potter… you wrote:

But his mouth was full of soot and cobwebs, and he was tied up in such very tight knots, he could not make anybody hear him.

Except a spider who came out of a crack in the ceiling and examined the knots critically, from a safe distance.

It was a judge of knots because it had a habit of tying up unfortunate blue-bottles. It did not offer to assist him.

Tom Kitten wriggled and squirmed until he was quite exhausted.

And drew this, and several other squirm/tie poses:

Generations of children read this.

Of course Beatrix Potter probably never thought of her work as erotic, and maybe you need to be kinky to see this as something other than purely innocent hijinks, but I can’t help feeling that it’s exhibit A in the point that kink is basically a slightly more sexy fandom of certain tropes.

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