"The Tale of Two Bad Mice" is a children's book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, and published by Frederick Warne & Co. in September 1904. Potter took inspiration for the tale from two mice caught in a cage-trap in her cousin's home and a dollhouse being constructed by her editor and publisher Norman Warne as a Christmas gift for his niece Winifred. While the tale was being developed, Potter and Warne fell in love and became engaged, much to the annoyance of Potter's parents, who were grooming their daughter to be a permanent resident and housekeeper in their London home.
The tale is about two mice who vandalize a dollhouse. After finding the food on the dining room table made of plaster, they smash the dishes, throw the doll clothing out the window, tear the bolster, and carry off a number of articles to their mouse-hole. When the little girl who owns the dollhouse discovers the destruction, she positions a policeman doll outside the front door to ward off any future depredation. The two mice atone for their crime spree by putting a crooked sixpence in the doll's stocking on Christmas Eve and sweeping the house every morning with a dust-pan and broom.
The tale's themes of rebellion, insurrection, and individualism reflect not only Potter's desire to free herself of her domineering parents and build a home of her own, but her fears about independence and her frustrations with Victorian domesticity.
The book was critically well received and brought Potter her first fan letter from America. The tale was adapted to a segment in the 1971 Royal Ballet film "The Tales of Beatrix Potter" and to an animated episode in the BBC series "The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends". Merchandise inspired by the tale includes Beswick Pottery porcelain figurines and Schmid music boxes.