The second of the twenty-three Peter Rabbit tales, The Tailor of Gloucester, was Beatrix Potter’s personal favourite. In a presentation copy of Warne’s edition Beatrix wrote ‘This is my own favourite amongst my little books’. Along with many of the other Tales, The Tailor originally started life as a picture letter to a child. The child in question was Winifreda Moore (often called Freda or Frida), second daughter of Annie Moore, Beatrix’s former companion and dear friend.
It was while visiting a cousin who lived in Stroud in Gloucestershire that Beatrix first heard the strange story of the Tailor of Gloucester. One evening the tailor, who was very poor, left in his shop a waistcoat, which he was making for the Mayor of Gloucester who was to be married on Christmas day. He had cut it out but not made it up. He fell ill and didn’t go back to the shop for three days and nights – what would become of the poor tailor if the waistcoat was not ready for the Mayor’s marriage?