Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943)

Born Helen Beatrix Potter on July 28th, 1866 in South Kensington London.

Her family was wealthy, and Potter and her younger brother Walter grew up highly educated and free to roam both their home estate and the country estates they visited on holiday. Educated at home by governesses, there were not many children to interact with, so she instead kept many small pets for company, like rabbits and hedgehogs and frogs, of which Potter enjoyed observing and drawing. A student of natural history, she studied archaeology, geology, entomology, and mycology as well. In 1897 her paper 'On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae' was presented at a meeting of the Linnean Society. Potter was not permitted to attend because she was a woman.

She had no children of her own but wrote many letters and correspondences with children she was close to, including many stories with animal illustrations. In 1901 she compiled some of her tales into a little book, The Tale Of Peter Rabbit, which after being rejected by multiple publishers she printed privately in a run of 250 copies. Afterwards, Frederick Warne agreed to publish the book commercially if she redid the illustrations in colour. Following the publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale Of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor Of Gloucester were published to great success. For years Potter published 2 or 3 books, writing two dozen children's tales and a few other books as well.

In 1905 she became unofficially engaged to her editor, Norman Warne. Her parents disapproved of the union as the couple worked together, and in a terrible twist of fate, Norman died shortly after the engagement.

Potter began to buy farms with the intention of conserving land in the Lake District. Shortly after the death of Norman she bought Hill Top Farm and used it as her writing sanctuary. In 1913 she married William Heelis, a local solicitor who assisted her with the land acquisition.

Potter died of pneumonia and heart disease on December 22, 1943, leaving most of her property to the National Trust.

Books by Beatrix Potter