B E A T R I X
P O T T E R
B I O G R A P H Y
- Beatrix Potter (1866-1943)
Beatrix Potter is perhaps the best-known author and illustrator of children’s books of all time. Visitors from around the globe flock in thousands to the picturesque Lake District farmhouse home, Hill Top Farm, in which she completed most of her charming water-colours.
Beatrix Potter was born in London in 1866, and she led a lonely Victorian childhood, kept away from the companionship of other children. She longed for the summer, when she was allowed to visit the Lake District and to roam amongst the stunning countryside.
As a young woman she studied art and natural history and she combined both in her career as a children's author, which began in 1901 when she was thirty-five. Her short stories were an instant success, with her first two books, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin selling very well. She ended up writing twenty three in all. The financial independence that her books brought enabled her to live her life away from her family constraints. She bought land in the Lake District with a view to setting up home in amongst her beloved mountains.
For her last thirty years she combined the roles of conservationist and sheep-farmer. With her burgeoning income she bought great tracts of Lake District land, which she donated to the newly-formed National Trust and thus preserved for the nation.
Her books have never lost any of their popularity. Today, they sell in millions and have been translated into dozens of languages. Before she died, Beatrix Potter wrote, "If I have done anything - even a little - to help small children on the road to enjoy and appreciate honest, simple pleasures, I have done a bit of good."
- On her death in 1943, aged 77, Beatrix left the National Trust 4,000 acres in the Lake District to be preserved for the nation, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
- Many of Beatrix's drawings can be seen at her husband's former office in the village of Hawkshead in the Lake District. The Beatrix Potter Gallery, as it's now called, is open from March 31 to October 31, tel: 01539 436355.
- Peter Rabbit was bought at a pet shop in London for 4s 6d and was used for many of Beatrix's early sketches. He made his debut in a letter to a sick child in 1893.
The 2007 film, Miss Potter stars Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor and is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen! Miss Potter explores the life and loves of the famous author, revealing her to be a talented, complex and innovative woman with a legacy that extends far beyond her much-loved books. The film focuses on the relationship between Beatrix and her editor Norman Warne (played by McGregor), and the strength of feeling which grows between them is perfectly expressed by an evocative film score from composer Nigel Westlake (cd available at amazon.com).
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