Why Beatrix Potter was a fascinating woman
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS This is a copy of a portrait of Beatrix Potter, English author of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," other beloved children's books, and a natural scientist and conservationist.
Here are some facts about Beatrix Potter, the author of the beloved story of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," that Jacqueline Mock shares with her audiences:
• Helen Beatrix Potter was born July 28, 1866
• Was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist best known for her imaginative children's books featuring animals which celebrated the British landscape and country life.
• Born to wealthy parents, Rupert and Helen Potter
• Had one younger brother, Walter
• Favored illustrating in watercolor. Along with her drawings of her animals, real and imagined, she illustrated insects, fossils, archaeological artifacts, and fungi. In the 1890s her mycological illustrations and research on the reproduction of fungi spores generated interest from the scientific establishment.
• Following some success illustrating cards and booklets, Potter wrote and illustrated "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," publishing it first privately in 1901, and a year later as a small, three-color illustrated book with Frederick Warne & Co.
• Some of her other titles are "The Tale of Benjamin Bunny," "The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle," "The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher," "The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse," and "The Tale of Little Pig Robinson."
• She became unofficially engaged to her editor Norman Warne in 1905 despite the disapproval of her parents, but he died suddenly a month later, of leukemia.
• With the proceeds from the books and a legacy from an aunt, Potter bought Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey, a tiny village in the English Lake District near Ambleside in 1905.
• 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 a prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep and a prosperous farmer keenly interested in land preservation.
• She continued to write, illustrate and design spinoff merchandise based on her children's books for Warne until the duties of land management and diminishing eyesight made it difficult to continue.
• Potter published over 23 books; the best known are those written between 1902 and 1922.
• She died on Dec. 22, 1943 at her home in Near Sawrey at age 77, leaving almost all her property to the National Trust, having no children. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park.