Biography and History

Frederick Warne & Co. was founded in 1865 by a bookseller turned publisher who gave his own name to the firm. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Warne's firm built a reputation based upon its list of published children's illustrated books by well-known authors and artists such as Edward Lea, Kate Greenaway, and Walter Crane. Toward the end of the century, Frederick Warne retired and handed the management of the business over to his three sons, Harold, Fruing, and Norman. Warne was among the six publishers to whom Beatrix Potter submitted her first book, the story of a rabbit called Peter. As did the other five, Warne turned the proposal down. People at the company changed their minds, however, when they saw the privately printed edition of the book in 1901. They offered to publish it if Potter redid the illustrations in color. The next year, Warne published The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and by Christmas had sold 20,000 copies. This was the beginning of a forty-year partnership that saw the publication of twenty-two additional Little Books and the development of a flourishing merchandising program, the first of its kind based on a children's book. In 1983, Frederick Warne was acquired by Penguin Books.

Source: From the finding aid for C1235