Book Review: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – Hieroglyph Edition

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, translated into hieroglyphs by J.F. Nunn and R.B. Parkinson.  This edition was published by The British Museum Press.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A visually delightful edition of a childhood classic, this is perfect for those who loved Beatrix Potter’s stories as a child and ancient Egypt as an adult.  Wonderful! 5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

The full and complete text of Beatrix Potter’s world-famous and universally loved Tale of Peter Rabbit faithfully translated and transcribed page for page into the hieroglyphic script of an Egyptian of the Middle Kingdom and illustrated with all the original colour artwork by the author herself. Based on the official centenary edition published in 2002, the translation combines the familiar face of the original with the British Museum’s world-renowned expertise and scholarship.

Favourite Quote

I had to be a little creative here and decided to include the translators’ explanation of the final page of the story:

“For ‘The End’, we have given the usual Egyptian scribe’s colophon, which indicates completion of the manuscript, and may be translated as: ‘So it ends, from start to finish as found in the writing of the writer Beatrix Potter.’


The Tale of Peter Rabbit was one of my favourite stories as a child.  In fact, I loved (and still love) all of Beatrix Potter’s books, but this one was my favourite of them.  Even as an adult I still love Peter Rabbit – I have a number of cross-stitches recreating the famous illustrations and a number of stuffed toys.  However, it is this, the Hieroglyph Edition of the story from The British Museum Press which is my most treasured Peter Rabbit possession.  I received it as a gift nearly ten years ago, and although I’ve had some pretty amazing presents since, I’m not sure any can eclipse this.

I should say, that yes, when I first received this, I could read some of it, having studied hieroglyphs a little (meaning I had a tiny amount of knowledge of what some of the elements represented – I’ve never been able to read it from cover to cover, though I aspire to).  However, over the passing years, I’ve not kept up with it, proving the saying, if you don’t use it, you lose it.  That doesn’t diminish the joy I find in flicking through the book though.

A photo of one of the inside pages (apologies for the wonkiness and darkness of the image – that’s all me, not the book)…the hieroglyphs look so beautiful on the page. Note an explanation from the translators at the bottom.

It is visually stunning, combining the original illustrations with facing pages of hieroglyphs, beneath which there are notes from the translators, explaining the need for replacement words in certain passages.  My favourite of these is found at the end of the story – see the favourite quote above.  I think it sounds so much nicer than simply writing “The End”.  Also, I think it’s worth pointing out the original text is not to be found in the book so unless you know the story – or can read hieroglyphs – you won’t have a clue what’s going on.

This is a lovely edition, and I heartily recommend it to those who like quirky or unusual books, or who have an interest in both ancient Egypt and Peter Rabbit.


Sammi Loves Books Reading Challenge 2019 – I’ve chosen this book for challenge #1 in the list: A book you read as a child / young adult

7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – Hieroglyph Edition

  1. Pingback: Bookish Reflections – February 2019 | Sammi Loves Books

  2. What a very odd thing for someone to think up and do, how wonderful! It sounds like YOU personally are the target audience, too. This must have been a labor of love for the people who put it together; I can’t imagine it was flying off the shelves. Unless they could connect it to one of the King Tut crazes, hmm…

    That said, I remember reading Peter Rabbit as a child, but clearly it didn’t make as much of an impression on me, as I don’t remember it well. This makes me want to go back and revisit it, and all those childhood favorites, like Paddington Bear and Charlotte’s Web and Encyclopedia Brown.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it is very niche but perfect for me lol, and as you say, I can’t imagine there being a great demand for it. It was picked up for me in a local bookshop, but I suppose if it’s being sold in The British Museum’s shop, and people have just spent hours looking around the Ancient Egypt exhibits, it might sell well. I wonder how many people have such overlapping interests…

      Paddington Bear and Charlotte’s Web! Yes, they would be great to revisit, and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe…There’s so many books I’d like to go back and re-read.

      Liked by 1 person

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