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Tutter, A. (2014). “To Half Believe and Wholly Play”: Dialectics of Reality in Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Two Bad Mice. Am. Imago, 71(2):133-160.

(2014). American Imago, 71(2):133-160

“To Half Believe and Wholly Play”: Dialectics of Reality in Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Two Bad Mice

Adele Tutter

What a great deal we lose in growing wise!

—Beatrix Potter, 1891, The Journal of Beatrix Potter, 1891-1897

“The Dark Journey of Life”

On June 24, 1884, the seventeen year-old Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) recorded in her heavily encrypted journal that the Reverend William Gaskell—a Unitarian minister and treasured family friend, of whom she had been inordinately fond—had been buried that day. In a photograph taken with Gaskell at age ten, a serious young Beatrix leans toward her friend, perfectly comfortable as he holds her in his firm embrace, one hand around her waist and the other clasping her hand (Fig. 1, left). In the previous year Potter had suffered the loss of a grandfather and an uncle; the departure for boarding school of her only sibling, her eleven year-old brother Bertram; the leave-taking of her beloved governess; and, just a few months before Gaskell's burial, the death of another precious relative, her grandmother Jane Leech, which Potter duly noted in her journal with the briefest of comments: “There will be no one soon” (Potter, 1989b, p. 62). It was only after Rev.

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