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Beatrix Potter ( 1866 - 1943 )  Category ( Authors ) [suggest a correction]

Beatrix PotterHelen Beatrix Potter was an English author, illustrator, mycologist, and conservationist best known for her illustrated children's books featuring animal characters. Potter was born to a wealthy family. She was educated by tutors and governesses so did not form bonds and friendships with children outside her own family. Instead, she focused her interest on the natural world, especially on holidays in rural areas of Scotland and the Lake District of England. Through such exposure she developed a love and keen observation skills of landscape, flora and fauna. She received drawing and painting lessons, and began to create images of the natural world. Her parents were traditional and did not like the idea of their daughter becoming an intellectual, but she persisted in her artistic and scientific interests, becoming a respected mycologist.

During her thirties, Potter wrote and published The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), which was based on her beloved childhood pet rabbit. The story was originally written for the little son of a friend. The child and his family liked the story so much that they shared it with others. Soon, many friends and acquaintances were encouraging Potter to try and have the story published in book form. Her first efforts to publish were unsuccessful so she privately printed 250 copies. Eventually, the publisher Frederick Warne & Co agreed to publish 8,000 copies in a special format designed with little hands in mind. After the book was published, she secretly became engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne. Her parents disapproved of Warne's lower social status and discouraged the marriage. Warne inadvertently obliged by dying of pernicious anemia before the wedding could take place. Potter was devastated.

Potter eventually published twenty-three children's books and became financially dependent of her parents. She bought a farm in her beloved Lake District. In her forties, she finally married a Lake District solicitor named William Heelis. The couple had no children, but Potter filled her days with writing and raising her beloved pets and farm animals. She became a sheep breeder and farmer while she continued her writing career. She finally gave up writing in 1920 due to poor eyesight. Her "Peter Rabbit" series remains a bestseller to this day, and have been adapted to the ballet and to film and animation. Beatrix Potter died at the age of 77, and left almost all her property to The National Trust in order to protect the beauty of the Lake District from developers.

Image: Helen Beatrix Potter.

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