Beatrix Potter

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Beatrix Potter

* 28.07.1866 + 22.12.1943


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Beatrix Potter, the beloved English author and illustrator of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit"

and many similar animal books -- pictured here with a real-life "Peter Rabbit" -- was born on this day in 1866.

As a child, Potter and her brother kept, cared for, studied, and drew their impressive collection of animals and insects which they kept in their school room and on the Scottish and northern England estates where they spent many of their summers. In 1902, Potter’s most famous work, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” was published to immediate success. For almost two decades, she continued to publish two or three similar books per year, ultimately writing 24 children's tales.

Potter also spent a good deal of time drawing and observing things found in nature. Mycology, the study of fungi, was of particular interest to Potter, and she even wrote a paper on the subject of fungal spore reproduction. Her paper was presented at a meeting of the Linnean Society in 1897 by a mycologist from the Royal Botanic Gardens, because women of the time were not permitted to attend the meetings. Upon her death in 1943, Potter, a dedicated conservationist, bequeathed sixteen farms and over 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust, enabling significant preservation of the lands that created the Lake District National Park. At the time, it was the largest gift the National Trust had ever received.

To introduce children to Beatrix Potter's remarkable life story, we highly recommend the gorgeous new picture book "Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit" for ages 5 to 9 ( and the illustrated biography "Who Was Beatrix Potter?" for ages 8 to 12 at

For a fascinating book for adults which explores how Beatrix Potter's garden inspired the characters in her classic children's tales, check out "Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life" at

For an excellent biography about her life for adult readers, we recommend "Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature" at

For more stories of Mighty Girls who love animals, visit our blog post "Animal Friends: 60 Mighty Girl Stories About Caring For Animals" at

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Beatrix Potter (British author & illustrator) 1866 - 1943

Appley Dapply, 1890 ink and watercolour drawing with folding door on hinge, all laid-down to card 10.1 x 15.5 cm. (3.98 x 6.10 in.) signed with initials and dated lower left "H.B.P. 1890.", private collection

Catalogue Note Sotheby's 9 December 2014 London, Lot 257 Possibly used by Beatrix Potter as a Christmas card design, and sent to Elinor and Elizabeth Lupton. The Lupton sisters' great aunt was Potter's grandmother and the artist is known to have sent Christmas designs to her relations in 1890 (present lot), 1893 (see Sotheby's, 14 July 2011, lot 142), 1894 (see Sotheby's, 14 July 2011, lot 143) and 1895. Relatives of Elinor Lupton (1886-1979) and Elizabeth ("Bessie") Lupton (1888-1977) sold these designs at auction in 2006. The subject of a mouse, with apron and basket, was re-worked by Potter the following year as Appley Dapply, a rhyme in three scenes. A later version was published within Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes in 1917. Crucially the cupboard contains a plate of jam tarts in all versions. DRAWINGS BY BEATRIX POTTER WITH MOVEABLE PARTS ARE EXTREMELY RARE.

  • * *

Helen Beatrix Potter was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist best known for her children's books featuring animals such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Born into a privileged household, Potter was educated by governesses and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and spent holidays in Scotland and the Lake District, developing a love of landscape, flora and fauna, all of which she closely observed and painted. Her parents discouraged her intellectual development as a young woman, but her study and watercolors of fungi led to her being widely respected in the field of mycology. In her thirties, Potter published the highly successful children's book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Potter began writing and illustrating children's books full-time.

With the proceeds from the books and a legacy from an aunt, Potter bought Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey, a village of Lancashire in the Lake District in 1905. Over the following decades, she purchased additional farms to preserve the unique hill country landscape. In 1913, at the age of 47, she married William Heelis, a respected local solicitor from Hawkshead. Potter was also a prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep and a prosperous farmer keenly interested in land preservation. She continued to write and illustrate, and to design spin-off merchandise based on her children's books for Warne, until the duties of land management and her diminishing eyesight made it difficult to continue.

Potter wrote about 30 books; the best known being her 23 children's tales. She died of pneumonia and heart disease on 22 December 1943 at her home in Near Sawrey (Lancashire) at age 77, leaving almost all her property to the National Trust. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park. Potter's books continue to sell throughout the world in many languages with her stories being retold in song, film, ballet, and animation, and her life depicted in a feature film and television film.

Beatrix Potter did not have many friends as a child, but she had lots of animals. She and her brother sneaked a rotating cast of pets into their nursery, including snakes, salamanders, lizards, rabbits, frogs, and a fat hedgehog. As a young adult, she invented narratives about her pets, filling her letters to the children of friends with their adventures. In 1901, Potter self-published the first edition of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.” It was an instant hit, selling out multiple editions. Potter believed that her first books found an audience because they were written for real children. “It is much more satisfactory to address a real live child,” she wrote. “I often think that that was the secret of the success of Peter Rabbit, it was written to a child—not made to order.” Read about the beloved author’s life and art:

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Beatrix Potter's creative world was a universe woven from childhood passions and keen observations. Her love of animals began early. Rabbits, mice, and even a hedgehog were not merely pets, but companions who sparked endless curiosity. She sketched them meticulously, capturing their personalities in every whisker and twitch of a nose. The rolling hills and quaint farms of the English countryside, where she spent cherished holidays, became the idyllic backdrops for her future tales. Yet, her imagination was equally nourished by the fantastical world of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. The whimsical illustrations that accompanied these stories ignited a love of visual storytelling that would forever mark her work. Alongside this artistic bent was a scientific mind. Beatrix diligently studied nature, her drawings evolving from charming sketches to accurate representations of fungi, insects, and flowers. This dual fascination—with both the realistic and the whimsical—would give her stories their unique charm. The desire to share these wonders with children propelled her forward. Frustrated by the lack of truly engaging children's books, she saw an opportunity to create stories that mirrored the world through a child's eyes, filled with both mischief and the quiet magic of the ordinary. Later, as a successful landowner, she became a staunch defender of rural life and its traditions. This deep connection to the land would infuse her work with a sense of timelessness and a hint of rebellion against the rapid changes of her era. In Beatrix Potter, the artist, the naturalist, the storyteller, and the quiet rebel converged. Her stories became miniature worlds mirroring her own passions, a testament to the enduring power of childhood wonder and the beauty found in the simplest of things.

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Enjoy listening to the words of Beatrix Potter from a selection of her world- famous tales, with theatre actor/singer John Anderson bringing to life the characters created in Beatrix’s imagination. A very informal event which the wee ones will love, but suitable for all ages!

This event is free, but we would welcome a donation at the time of booking, to help towards future free events.


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