A story of Edwardian shopkeepers: Beatrix Potter's Ginger and Pickles

Alice Belcher, Sally Wheeler

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The centre point of this article is one of Beatrix Potter's less well-known stories, Ginger and Pickles. Unusually, this story places animal characters in a business environment and confronts them with questions of commerce and law. The article aims to offer two complementary readings of this story. One examines the story's plot and sets its key themes (the importance of competition and credit, the problems caused by international trade, business failure and the role of the shop's customers) in their contemporary context. Since using a piece of literature as a reportage sketch on which to comment on past and present legal structures requires some engagement with the ambitions of literary criticism in children's literature. The article therefore also examines issues such as the place given to the author in constructing the meaning of a text, and the educative ambitions of children's literature. The influence of Potter's biography on her approach to children's literature is considered, along with the more general question of how genres of biography might produce an account of commercial and legal prudence in terms of character and action. The second reading compares Potter's rhetoric of commercial prudence with the current rhetoric of 'stakeholding'.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)181-210
    Number of pages30
    JournalGriffith Law Review
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


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