The Tailor of Gloucester book cover

The Tailor of Gloucester

The Tailor of Gloucester is a children's book by Beatrix Potter that tells the charming story of a poor tailor who gets help from a group of mice to complete an exquisite coat for the mayor’s wedding. It beautifully encapsulates themes of kindness, hard work, and the magic of Christmas.

Genre: Children

"I'll be at charges for a looking-glass; And entertain a score or two of tailors." [Richard III] My Dear Freda: Because you are fond of fairytales, and have been ill, I have made you a story all for yourself--a new one that nobody has read before. And the queerest thing about it is--that I heard it in Gloucestershire, and that it is true--at least about the tailor, the waistcoat, and the "No more twist!" Christmas In the time of swords and peri wigs and full-skirted coats with flowered lappets--when gentlemen wore ruffles, and gold-laced waistcoats of paduasoy and taffeta--there lived a tailor in Gloucester. He sat in the window of a little shop in Westgate Street, cross-legged on a table from morning till dark. All day long while the light lasted he sewed and snippetted, piecing out his satin, and pompadour, and lutestring; stuffs had strange names, and were very expensive in the days of the Tailor of Gloucester. But although he sewed fine silk for his neighbours, he himself was very, very poor. He cut his coats without waste; according to his embroidered cloth, they were very small ends and snippets that lay about upon the table--"Too narrow breadths for nought--except waistcoats for mice," said the tailor. One bitter cold day near Christmastime the tailor began to make a coat (a coat of cherry- coloured corded silk embroidered with pansies and roses) and a cream- coloured satin waistcoat for the Mayor of Gloucester. The tailor worked and worked, and he talked to himself: "No breadth at all, and cut on the cross; it is no breadth at all; tippets for mice and ribbons for mobs! for mice!" said the Tailor of Gloucester. When the snow-flakes came down against the small leaded window- panes and shut out the light, the tailor had done his day's work; all the silk and satin lay cut out upon the table. There were twelve pieces for the coat and four pieces for the waistcoat; and there were pocket-flaps and cuffs and buttons, all in order. For the lining of the coat there was fine yellow taffeta, and for the button- holes of the waistcoat there was cherry-coloured twist. And everything was ready to sew together in the morning, all measured and sufficient--except that there was wanting just one single skein of cherry-coloured twisted silk. The tailor came out of his shop at dark. No one lived there at nights but little brown mice, and THEY ran in and out without any keys! For behind the wooden wainscots of all the old houses in Gloucester, there are little mouse staircases and secret trap-doors; and the mice run from house to house through those long, narrow passages. But the tailor came out of his shop and shuffled home through the snow. And although it was not a big house, the tailor was so poor he only rented the kitchen. He lived alone with his cat; it was called Simpkin. "Miaw?" said the cat when the tailor opened the door, "miaw?" The tailor replied: "Simpkin, we shall make our fortune, but I am worn to a ravelling. Take this groat (which is our last fourpence), and, Simpkin, take a china pipkin, but a penn'orth of bread, a penn'orth of milk, and a penn'orth of sausages. And oh, Simpkin, with the last penny of our fourpence but me one penn'orth of cherry-coloured silk. But do not lose the last penny of the fourpence, Simpkin, or I am undone and worn to a thread-paper, for I have NO MORE TWIST." Then Simpkin again said "Miaw!" and took the groat and the pipkin, and went out into the dark. The tailor was very tired and beginning to be ill. He sat down by the hearth and talked to himself about that wonderful coat. "I shall make my fortune--to be cut bias--the Mayor of Gloucester is to be married on Christmas Day in the morning, and he hath ordered a coat and an embroidered waistcoat--" Then the tailor started; for suddenly, interrupting him, from the dresser at the other side of the kitchen came a number of little noises-- Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap tip! "Now what can that be?" said the Tailor of Gloucester, jumping up from his chair. The tailor crossed the kitchen, and stood quite still beside the dresser, listening, and peering through his spectacles. "This is very peculiar," said the Tailor of Gloucester, and he lifted up the tea-cup which was upside down. Out stepped a little live lady mouse, and made a courtesy to the tailor! Then she hopped away down off the dresser, and under the wainscot. The tailor sat down again by the fire, warming his poor cold hands. But all at once, from the dresser, there came other little noises-- Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap tip! "This is passing extraordinary!" said the Tailor of Gloucester, and turned over another tea-cup, which was upside down. Out stepped a little gentleman mouse, and made a bow to the tailor! And out from under tea-cups and from under bowls and basins, stepped other and more little mice, who hopped away down off the dresser and under the wainscot. The tailor sat down, close over the fire, lamenting: "One-and-twenty buttonholes of cherry-coloured silk! To be finished by noon of Saturday: and this is Tuesday evening. Was it right to let loose those mice, undoubtedly the property of Simpkin? Alack, I am undone, for I have no more twist!" The little mice came out again and listened to the tailor; they took notice of the pattern of that wonderful coat. They whispered to one another about the taffeta lining and about little mouse tippets. And then suddenly they all ran away together down the passage behind the wainscot, squeaking and calling to one another as they ran from house to house. Not one mouse was left in the tailor's kitchen when Simpkin came back. He set down the pipkin of milk upon the dresser, and looked suspiciously at the tea-cups. He wanted his supper of little fat mouse! "Simpkin," said the tailor, "where is my TWIST?" But Simpkin hid a little parcel
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Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist best known for her children's books featuring animals, such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Born into an upper-middle-class household, Potter was educated by governesses and grew up isolated from other children. more…

All Beatrix Potter books

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