Rabbits     |     Dogs     |     Cats     |     Horses     |    Small Pets

The Enchanting

Children's story of

the Velveteen Rabbit

Help Rescue Homeless

Pets with a Gift

of One Dollar

The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real
by Margery Williams
[Doubleday and Company: Garden City, New York -
no copyright or pub date]


THERE was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was
really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be;
his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread
whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas
morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy's stocking,
with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.

There were other things in the stocking, nuts and oranges and a
toy engine, and chocolate almonds and a clockwork mouse, but the
Rabbit was quite the best of all. For at least two hours the Boy
loved him, and then Aunts and Uncles came to dinner, and there
was a great rustling of tissue paper and unwrapping of parcels,
and in the excitement of looking at all the new presents the
Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten.

For a long time he lived in the toy cupboard or on the nursery
floor, and no one thought very much about him. He was naturally
shy, and being only made of velveteen, some of the more expensive
toys quite snubbed him. The mechanical toys were very superior,
and looked down upon every one else; they were full of modern
ideas, and pretended they were real. The model boat, who had
lived through two seasons and lost most of his paint, caught the
tone from them and never missed an opportunity of referring to
his rigging in technical terms. The Rabbit could not claim to be
a model of anything, for he didn't know that real rabbits
existed; he thought they were all stuffed with sawdust like
himself, and he understood that sawdust was quite out-of-date and
should never be mentioned in modern circles. Even Timothy, the
jointed wooden lion, who was made by the disabled soldiers, and
should have had broader views, put on airs and pretended he was
connected with Government. Between them all the poor little
Rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant and
commonplace, and the only person who was kind to him at all was
the Skin Horse.

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the
others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and
showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail
had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he
had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and
swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and
he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into
anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful,
and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced
like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying
side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy
the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a
stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing
that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long
time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you
become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.
"When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or
bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You
become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often
to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to
be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of
your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get
loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't
matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly,
except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he
had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be
sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many
years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again.
It lasts for always."

The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this
magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to
know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and
losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he
could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to

There was a person called Nana who ruled the nursery. Sometimes
she took no notice of the playthings lying about, and sometimes,
for no reason whatever, she went swooping about like a great wind
and hustled them away in cupboards. She called this "tidying up,"
and the playthings all hated it, especially the tin ones. The
Rabbit didn't mind it so much, for wherever he was thrown he came
down soft.

One evening, when the Boy was going to bed, he couldn't find the
china dog that always slept with him. Nana was in a hurry, and it
was too much trouble to hunt for china dogs at bedtime, so she
simply looked about her, and seeing that the toy cupboard stood
open, she made a swoop.

"Here," she said, "take your old Bunny! He'll do to sleep with
you!" And she dragged the Rabbit out by one ear, and put him into
the Boy's arms.

That night, and for many nights after, the Velveteen Rabbit slept
in the Boy's bed. At first he found it uncomfortable, for the Boy
hugged him very tight, and sometimes he rolled over on him, and
sometimes he pushed him so far under the pillow that the Rabbit
could scarcely breathe. And he missed, too, those long moonlight
hours in the nursery, when all the house was silent, and his
talks with the Skin Horse. But very soon he grew to like it, for
the Boy used to talk to him, and made nice tunnels for him under
the bedclothes that he said were like the burrow the real rabbits
lived in. And they had splendid games together, in whispers, when
Nana had gone away to her supper and left the night-light burning
on the mantelpiece. And when the Boy dropped off to sleep, the
Rabbit would snuggle down close under his little warm chin and
dream, with the Boy's hands clasped close round him all night

And so time went on, and the little Rabbit was very happy -- so
happy that he never noticed how his beautiful velveteen fur was
getting shabbier and shabbier, and his tail becoming unsewn, and
all the pink rubbed off his nose where the Boy had kissed him.

Spring came, and they had long days in the garden, for wherever
the Boy went the Rabbit went too. He had rides in the
wheelbarrow, and picnics on the grass, and lovely fairy huts
built for him under the raspberry canes behind the flower border.
And once, when the Boy was called away suddenly to go to tea, the
Rabbit was left out on the lawn until long after dusk, and Nana
had to come and look for him with the candle because the Boy
couldn't go to sleep unless he was there. He was wet through with
the dew and quite earthy from diving into the burrows the Boy had
made for him in the flower bed, and Nana grumbled as she rubbed
him off with a corner of her apron.

"You must have your old Bunny!" she said. "Fancy all that fuss
for a toy!"

"Give me my Bunny!" he said. "You mustn't say that. He isn't a
toy. He's REAL!"

When the little Rabbit heard that he was happy, for he knew what
the Skin Horse had said was true at last. The nursery magic had
happened to him, and he was a toy no longer. He was Real. The Boy
himself had said it.

That night he was almost too happy to sleep, and so much love
stirred in his little sawdust heart that it almost burst. And
into his boot-button eyes, that had long ago lost their polish,
there came a look of wisdom and beauty, so that even Nana noticed
it next morning when she picked him up, and said, "I declare if
that old Bunny hasn't got quite a knowing expression!"


That was a wonderful Summer!

Near the house where they lived there was a wood, and in the long
June evening the Boy liked to go there after tea to play. He took
the Velveteen Rabbit with him, and before he wandered off to pick
flowers, or play at brigands among the trees, he always made the
Rabbit a little nest somewhere among the bracken, where he would
be quite cosy, for he was a kind-hearted little boy and he liked
Bunny to be comfortable. One evening, while the Rabbit was lying
there alone, watching the ants that ran to and fro between his
velvet paws in the grass, he saw two strange beings creep out of
the tall bracken near him.

They were rabbits like himself, but quite furry and brand-new.
They must have been very well made, for their seams didn't show
at all, and they changed shape in a queer way when they moved;
one minute they were long and thin and the next minute fat and
bunchy, instead of always staying the same like he did. Their
feet padded softly on the ground, and they crept quite close to
him, twitching their noses, while the Rabbit stared hard to see
which side the clockwork stuck out, for he knew that people who
jump generally have something to wind them up. But he couldn't
see it. They were evidently a new kind of rabbit altogether.

They stared at him, and the little Rabbit stared back. And all
the time their noses twitched.

"Why don't you get up and play with us?" one of them asked.

"I don't feel like it," said the Rabbit, for he didn't want to
explain that he had no clockwork.

"Ho!" said the furry rabbit. "It's as easy as anything," And he
gave a big hop sideways and stood on his hind legs.

"I don't believe you can!" he said.

"I can!" said the little Rabbit. "I can jump higher than
anything" He meant when the Boy threw him, but of course he
didn't want to say so.

"Can you hop on your hind legs?" asked the furry rabbit?

That was a dreadful question, for the Velveteen rabbit had no
hind legs at all! The back of him was made all in one piece, like
a pincushion. He sat still in the bracken, and hoped that the
other rabbit wouldn't notice.

"I don't want to!" he said again.

But the wild rabbits have very sharp eyes. And this one stretched
out his neck and looked.

"He hasn't got any hind legs" he called out. "Fancy a rabbit
without any hind legs" And he began to laugh.

"I have!" cried the little Rabbit. "I have got hind legs! I am
sitting on them"

"Then stretch them out and show me, like this!" said the wild
rabbit. And he began to whirl around and dance, till the little
Rabbit got quite dizzy.

"I don't like dancing," he said. "I'd rather sit still!"

But all the while he was longing to dance, for a funny new tickly
feeling ran through him, and he felt he would give anything in
the world to be able to jump about like these rabbits did.

The strange rabbit stopped dancing, and came quite close. He came
so close this time that his long whiskers brushed the Velveteen
Rabbit's ear, and then he wrinkled his nose suddenly and
flattened his ears and jumped backwards.

"He doesn't smell right!" he exclaimed. "He isn't a rabbit at
all! He isn't real!"

"I am Real!" said the little Rabbit. "I am Real! The Boy said
so!" And he nearly began to cry.

Just then there was a sound of footsteps, and the Boy ran past
near them, and with a stamp of feet and a flash of white tails
the two strange rabbits disappeared.

"Come back and play with me!" called the little Rabbit. "Oh, do
come back! I know I am Real!"

But there was no answer, only the little ants ran to and fro, and
the bracken swayed gently where the two strangers had passed. The
Velveteen Rabbit was all alone.

"Oh, dear!" he thought. "Why did they run away like that? Why
couldn't they stop and talk to me?"

For a long time he lay very still, watching the bracken, and
hoping that they would come back. But they never returned, and
presently the sun sank lower and the little white moths fluttered
out, and the Boy came and carried him home.


Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but
the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he
loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears
turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his
shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to
the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that
the little Rabbit cared about. He didn't mind how he looked to
other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and
when you are Real shabbiness doesn't matter.

And then, one day, the Boy was ill.

His face grew very flushed, and he talked in his sleep, and his
little body was so hot that it burned the Rabbit when he held him

Strange people came and went in the nursery, and a light burned
all night and through it all the little Velveteen Rabbit lay
there, hidden from sight under the bedclothes, and he never
stirred, for he was afraid that if they found him some one might
take him away, and he knew that the Boy needed him.

It was a long weary time, for the Boy was too ill to play, and
the little Rabbit found it rather dull with nothing to do all day
long. But he snuggled down patiently, and looked forward to the
time when the Boy should be well again, and they would go out in
the garden amongst the flowers and the butterflies and play
splendid games in the raspberry thicket like they used to. All
sorts of delightful things he planned, and while the Boy lay half
asleep he crept up close to the pillow and whispered them in his
ear. And presently the fever turned, and the Boy got better. He
was able to sit up in bed and look at picture-books, while the
little Rabbit cuddled close at his side. And one day, they let
him get up and dress.

It was a bright, sunny morning, and the windows stood wide open.
They had carried the Boy out on the balcony, wrapped in a shawl,
and the little Rabbit lay tangled up among the bedclothes,

The Boy was going to the seaside to-morrow. Everything was
arranged, and now it only remained to carry out the doctor's
orders. They talked about it all, while the little Rabbit lay
under the bedclothes, with just his head peeping out, and
listened. The room was to be disinfected, and all the books and
toys that the Boy had played with in bed must be burnt.

"Hurrah!" thought the little Rabbit. "To-morrow we shall go to
the seaside!" For the boy had often talked of the seaside, and he
wanted very much to see the big waves coming in, and the tiny
crabs, and the sand castles.

Just then Nana caught sight of him.

"How about his old Bunny?" she asked.

"That?" said the doctor. "Why, it's a mass of scarlet fever
germs! -- Burn it at once. What? Nonsense! Get him a new one. He
mustn't have that any more!"

And so the little Rabbit was put into a sack with the old
picture-books and a lot of rubbish, and carried out to the end of
the garden behind the fowl-house. That was a fine place to make a
bonfire, only the gardener was too busy just then to attend to
it. He had the potatoes to dig and the green peas to gather, but
next morning he promised to come early and burn the whole lot.

That night the Boy slept in a different bedroom, and he had a new
bunny to sleep with him. It was a splendid bunny, all white plush
with real glass eyes, but the Boy was too excited to care very
much about it. For to-morrow he was going to the seaside, and
that in itself was such a wonderful thing that he could think of
nothing else.

And while the Boy was asleep, dreaming of the seaside, the little
Rabbit lay among the old picture-books in the corner behind the
fowl-house, and he felt very lonely. The sack had been left
untied, and so by wriggling a bit he was able to get his head
through the opening and look out. He was shivering a little, for
he had always been used to sleeping in a proper bed, and by this
time his coat had worn so thin and threadbare from hugging that
it was no longer any protection to him. Near by he could see the
thicket of raspberry canes, growing tall and close like a
tropical jungle, in whose shadow he had played with the Boy on
bygone mornings. He thought of those long sunlit hours in the
garden -- how happy they were -- and a great sadness came over
him. He seemed to see them all pass before him, each more
beautiful than the other, the fairy huts in the flower-bed, the
quiet evenings in the wood when he lay in the bracken and the
little ants ran over his paws; the wonderful day when he first
knew that he was Real. He thought of the Skin Horse, so wise and
gentle, and all that he had told him. Of what use was it to be
loved and lose one's beauty and become Real if it all ended like
this? And a tear, a real tear, trickled down his little shabby
velvet nose and fell to the ground.

And then a strange thing happened. For where the tear had fallen
a flower grew out of the ground, a mysterious flower, not at all
like any that grew in the garden. It had slender green leaves the
colour of emeralds, and in the centre of the leaves a blossom
like a golden cup. It was so beautiful that the little Rabbit
forgot to cry, and just lay there watching it. And presently the
blossom opened, and out of it there stepped a fairy.

She was quite the loveliest fairy in the whole world. Her dress
was of pearl and dew-drops, and there were flowers round her neck
and in her hair, and her face was like the most perfect flower of
all. And she came close to the little Rabbit and gathered him up
in her arms and kissed him on his velveteen nose that was all
damp from crying.

"Little Rabbit," she said, "don't you know who I am?"

The Rabbit looked up at her, and it seemed to him that he had
seen her face before, but he couldn't think where.

"I am the nursery magic Fairy," she said. "I take care of all the
playthings that the children have loved. When they are old and
worn out, and the children don't need them any more, then I come
and take them away with me and turn them into Real."

"Wasn't I Real before?" asked the little Rabbit.

"You were Real to the Boy," the Fairy said, "because he loved
you. Now you shall be Real to every one."

And she held the little Rabbit close in her arms and flew with
him into the wood.

It was light now, for the moon had risen. All the forest was
beautiful, and the fronds of the bracken shone like frosted
silver. In the open glade between the tree-trunks the wild
rabbits danced with their shadows on the velvet grass, but when
they saw the Fairy they all stopped dancing and stood round in a
ring to stare at her.

"I've brought you a new playfellow," the Fairy said. "You must be
very kind to him and teach him all he needs to know in
Rabbit-land, for he is going to live with you for ever and ever!"

And she kissed the little Rabbit again and put him down on the

"Run and play, little Rabbit!" she said.

But the little Rabbit sat quite still for a moment and never
moved. For when he saw all the wild rabbits dancing around him he
suddenly remembered about his hind legs, and he didn't want them
to see that he was made all in one piece. He did not know that
when the Fairy kissed him that last time she had changed him
altogether. And he might have sat there a long time, too shy to
move, if just then something hadn't tickled his nose, and before
he thought what he was doing he lifted his hind toe to scratch

And he found that he actually had hind legs! Instead of dingy
velveteen he had brown fur, soft and shiny, his ears twitched by
themselves, and his whiskers were so long that they brushed the
grass. He gave one leap and the joy of using those hind legs was
so great that he went springing about the turf with them, jumping
sideways and whirling round as the other did, and he grew so
excited that when at last he did stop to look for the Fairy she
had gone.

He was a Real Rabbit at last, at home with the other rabbits.


Autumn passed and Winter, and in the Spring, when the days grew
warm and sunny, the Boy went out to play in the wood behind the
house. And while he was playing, two rabbits crept out from the
bracken and peeped at him. One of them was brown all over, but
the other had strange markings under his fur, as though long ago
he had been spotted, and the spots still showed through. And
about his little soft nose and his round back eyes there was
something familiar, so that the Boy thought to himself:

"Why, he looks just like my old Bunny that was lost when I had
scarlet fever!"

But he never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to
look at the child who had first helped him to be Real.

More Fictional Rabbits

Custom Search

Rabbit & Animal Calendars

Adorable Plush Rabbits & Animals

Pet Site Map

Pet Care Tips Home Page