Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter

Helen Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943)

I grew up with some of the tiny books about Peter Rabbit, and his raids on Farmer McGregor's garden... along with other beloved tales of mice and hedgehogs. My children are also well acquainted with her books and illustrations - having had the stories read to them before bedtime a million times.

According to Wikipedia, Beatrix Potter was Born 28 July 1866
Kensington, London
Died 22 December 1943 (aged 77)
Helen Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) was an English author, illustrator, mycologist, and conservationist who was best known for her children's books, which featured animal characters such as Peter Rabbit.

Born into a privileged household, Potter was educated by governesses, and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and through holidays in Scotland and the Lake District developed a love of landscape, flora and fauna, all which she closely observed and painted. As a young woman her parents discouraged intellectual development, but her study and paintings of fungi led her to be widely respected in the field of mycology. In her thirties Potter published the highly successful children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and became secretly engaged to her publisher Norman Warne causing a breach with her parents, who disapproved of his social status. Warne died before the wedding could take place.

Potter eventually published 23 children's books, and having become financially independent of her parents, was able to buy a farm in the Lake District, which she extended with other purchases over time. In her forties she married a local solicitor, William Heelis. She became a sheep breeder and farmer while continuing to write and illustrate children's books. Potter died in 1943, and left almost all of her property to The National Trust in order to preserve the beauty of the Lake District as she had known it, protecting it from developers.

Potter's books continue to sell well throughout the world, in multiple languages. Her stories have been retold in various formats, including a ballet, films and in animation.


Doug said...

Happy birthday, Bea!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks for this delightful post. I have visited her little cottage in the Lake District.

Nessa said...

A woman after my own heart.

Mo'a said...

I have always loved her little books...have started giving them to our little Victor. He also has a little Peter Rabbit stuffed toy :)
Lovely post. Have you seen the movie "Miss Potter?

lime said...

oh thank you for posting this! i have such fond memories of reading beatrix potter to my kids. we had such a lovely treasury of her stories.

yellowdog granny said...

my daughter still has all of her little books by beatrix..I'm pretty sure the granddaughters do too..
happy birthday bee

Dr.John said...

I loved her books when I was a kid. Grandma read them to me all the time.

Claire said...

Also retold last year by my daughter's 6th grade class play for the kindergarten 'kind buddy' class. I love the illustrations in particular. Nice post!
Thanks for your visit.

tsduff said...

Doug - how come you never miss a birthday?

Lone Grey Squirrel - How lucky are you, to be able to say that? Many, many thanks for my sweetly gifted award... I am not good at receiving such things but am truly appreciative :) Thank you my dear furry friend, and just know that I KNOW that you are the one truly deserving of this award :)

Nessa - I knew we were related.. was it older sis or younger sis??

Mo'a - no, haven't seen the movie, but maybe one day. Your kiddo Victor is so lucky to have your legacy :) Nothing like the real thing, eh? :)

SOe said...

Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing the informations. I like it that the books of our childhood never let us go for our whole life (if you don´t become a stuffy adult :-) ). I grow up with A. Wolkows "The wizard of the emerald city"-series (6 books)- similar to "The wonderful Wizard of Oz" from L. Frank Braun.

tsduff said...

Lime - I enjoyed finding out a little more about Beatrix Potter while researching for this post. She sounds like a great lady - becoming a sheep rancher and land owner while still writing and illustrating her own books. The story of Peter Rabbit was a childhood favorite of mine.

Yellowdog Granny - Bea's books are truly ones we treasure, and can give to our children. I'd love to have met her.

Dr. John - Your Grandma did what Grandma's do best - read great stories to their grandchildren. Now you are the storyteller for your Grandchildren (and all of us)!

Claire - What a great play to put on... can't think of a better subject. Ms. Potter's illustrations are marvelous - and she started drawing them at such an early age. I'm so glad she shared them with the world.

SOe - I enjoyed your thought about stories that won't let us go throughout our lives... I sure hope I don't become a stuffy grown up! The Oz books were my favorites as I grew up. Maybe I should dig them out again.

Jamie Dawn said...

I love the movie Miss Potter.
She was quite a woman, and her accomplishments are remarkable for a woman of that day. She had moxy!

Anonymous said...

Fab site, thanks very much. BP's work is immortal. I'm always on the hunt for great children's books and have recently discovered Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks and DiscoveryBoxBooks (which is a special Olympic edition) They have work by acclaimed children's books illustrator Helen Oxenbury appearing in the Storybox series for September. In addition to this, they also have some great activities for rainy days:,, Enjoy!