Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Francis was, however, the dedicatee. He was the son of BP’s cousin, Caroline Hutton, whose husband was Laird of Ulva, and the book’s printed dedication reads “For William Francis of Ulva – Someday!”.

Mr Tod sold at £1900, but bid to £2600 – again slightly less than had been hoped – was a really superb first of The Tale of Johnny Town Mouse inscribed to Francis “…with love from Beatrix Potter”. Twenty-three years ago it had made almost the same sum, £2500, at Christie’s South Kensington.

Caroline Hutton lived at Harescombe Grange, near Gloucester. Some years earlier, she had related to her cousin a curious local tale involving a tailor, John Pritchard, that BP later reworked as The Tailor of Gloucester – the book that she often claimed to be her own favourite.