The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams Bianco, first published in 1922, is one of the most cherished of all children’s books. The original title was, The Velveteen Rabbit, or How Toys Become Real. Just the mention of its title brings back memories for almost everyone.

The tale begins when a stuffed rabbit received as a Christmas gift, is neglected in favor of other gifts. The rabbit wants more than anything to become real. Then he becomes “the Boy’s” favorite stuffed animal. The rabbit sleeps with the boy and goes everywhere with the boy. Soon he is frayed and worn — a true sign of being loved. And being loved is how a toy becomes “Real”.

When The Boy contracts scarlet fever, the rabbit sees him through the illness. Afterwards, though, the doctor requires that all clothing, bed linens, and cloth toys be burned. The rabbit survives by becoming truly real, and goes to live with real rabbits. It is significant that neither The Boy nor the rabbit has a name. Just what that significance is, is up to the reader.

About the Author

The Velveteen Rabbit was Margery Williams’ first, and most well-known children’s book. Born in London, England, in 1881, Margery moved to the United States at the age of nine. At the age of 19, she returned to England, and lived alternately in both the U.S. and England during the remainder of her life. Between 1901 and her death in 1944, she published numerous children’s books, including one about two teenage girls, that was runner-up for the 1937 Newbery Medal for excellence in children’s literature. Margery probably wrote her first books by hand but may have typed the later ones.

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