Potter's pet hedgehog, Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, and Kitty MacDonald, a Scottish washerwoman, were the inspirations for the eponymous heroine. Lucie Carr, a child friend of Potter's, was the model for the fictional Lucie. Potter's Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny make cameo appearances in the illustrations. The Newlands Valley and the surrounding fells are the sources for the backgrounds in the illustrations.
Mrs. Tiggy-winkle has been described as one of Potter's most positive creations, but critics consider Lucie an artistic failure. Although Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is set in an identifiable place and time period, the tale is mythologized by reaching back to an age when household chores were performed manually and without the aid of modern mechanical inventions. The simple dwellings, rustic pathways, and stone fences enhance the tale's timeless aspect and suggest an unchanging countryside and its way of life.