Potter based her story of Charles Perrault’s classic fairy tale but her take on it is even “more sinister”, according to publisher Frederick Warne & Co., which is part of Penguin Random House.
Her version was first published by Warne in an academic collection of Potter’s writing, edited by historian Leslie Linder, and there are three handwritten drafts of the story at the V&A. It has not, however, been published as a standalone book before.
Editorial director Anna Barnes Robinson said publishing the story with illustrations by a famous illustrator was an “excellent” way of reaching fans and readers and that Oxenbury was the “perfect choice” of artist. “We knew that we needed someone who would respond perfectly to the darkness of Red Riding Hood with humour and character, and who could visualise the richly-detailed countryside setting of Potter’s retelling – full of wildflower meadows, copses and English country gardens,” she said.
Oxenbury said: “I have often heard actors say how much more interesting it is to play the villain than the good guy or the romantic lead. I understand this completely after illustrating Beatrix Potter's darkly delicious version of Red Riding Hood, which captivated me from the very first time I read it. The wolf in Potter's story is a wonderful villain to draw, and has kept me on my toes with his sly evil ways.”
Frederick Warne & Co. will publish Red Riding Hood by Beatrix Potter and Helen Oxenbury in hardback on 8th August 2019. Penguin Random House will publish in the US but other rights are available.
In 2016 Frederick Warne marked Potter’s 150th birthday by releasing one of her previously unpublished 'lost' children’s stories with new illustrations by Quentin Blake. The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, penned by Potter in 1914, was found by publisher Jo Hanks in the archives of the V&A museum in 2013.