200px-The Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse first edition cover

First edition cover.

The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse
 is a children's book written and illustrated by Beartrix Potter, and published by Frederick Warne & Co. in 1910.


Mrs. Tittlemouse is a tale in which no humans play a part and one in which events are treated as though they have occurred since time immemorial and far from human observance. It is a simple story, and one likely to appeal to young children.

Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse is a "most terribly tidy little mouse always sweeping and dusting the soft sandy floors" in the "yards and yards" of passages and storerooms, nut-cellars, and seed-cellars in her "funny house" amongst the roots of a hedge. She has a kitchen, a parlour, a pantry, a larder, and a bedroom where she keeps her dust-pan and brush next to her little box bed. She tries to keep her house tidy, but insect intruders leave dirty footprints on the floors and all sorts of messes about the place.

A beetle is shooed away, a ladybird is exorcised with "Fly away home! Your house in on fire!", and a spider inquiring after Miss Muffet is turned away with little ceremony. In a distant passage, Mrs. Tittlemouse meets Babbitty Bumble, a bumble bee who has taken up residence with three or four other bees in one of the empty storerooms. Mrs. Tittlemouse tries to pull out their nest but they buzz fiercely at her, and she retreats to deal with the matter after dinner.

In her parlour, she finds her toad neighbour Mr. Jackson sitting before the fire in her rocking chair. Mr. Jackson lives in "a drain below the hedge, in a very dirty wet ditch". His coat tails drip with water and he leaves wet footmarks on Mrs. Tittlemouse's parlour floor. She follows him about with a mop and dish-cloth.

Mrs. Tittlemouse allows Mr. Jackson to stay for dinner, but the food is not to his pleasing, and he rummages about the cupboard searching for the honey he can smell. He discovers a butterfly in the sugar bowl, but when he finds the bees, he makes a big mess pulling out their nest. Mrs. Tittlemouse fears she "shall go distracted" as a result of the turmoil and takes refuge in the nut-cellar. When she finally ventures forth, she discovers everybody has left but her house is a mess. She takes some moss, beeswax, and twigs to partly close up her front door to keep Mr. Jackson out. Exhausted, she goes to bed wondering if her house will ever be tidy again.

The fastidious little mouse spends a fortnight spring cleaning. She rubs the furniture with beeswax and polishes her little tin spoons, then holds a party for five other little wood-mice wearing their Regency finery. Mr. Jackson attends but is forced to sit outside because Mrs. Tittlemouse has narrowed her door. He takes no offence at being excluded from the parlour. Acorn-cupfuls of honeydew are passed through the window to him and he toasts Mrs. Tittlemouse's good health.