Beatrix Potter 1866 - 1943
POTTER was born in London in 1866 and lived until
1943. Her love of the countryside stemmed from her childhood
holidays in the Lake District. In the 19th Century, there
was no formal education for girls and Victorian values also
forbid her to become a farmer. When Beatrix was young she
had various animals as pets, which she made drawings of, whilst
During the summer months she would go to Scotland with her
parents for a 3 month holiday. When she was  they could
not go to Scotland because the house they usually rented was
not available. Therefore, her parents decided to go to the
Lake District and stayed and stay at a luxury hotel near Ambleside.
Beatrix became friends with the vicar, Cannon H. Rawnsley
of Wray Church, who would later encourage Beatrix to publish
her first book, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit". Cannon H. Rawnsley
would become one of the co-founders of the National Trust,
in the hope of preserving the natural beauty of the Lake District.
Over many years the family would visit the Lake District periodically,
staying at various areas, watching the animals and also making
many sketches of the numerous landscapes. Although she stayed
in many places, she still remained in contact with Cannon
H. Rawnsley and he would encourage her in her drawings. On
returning home to London from her holidays she would make
greeting cards of her pictures and eventually began making
book was to be "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and was sent to
Frederick Warne, a well known publisher of children's books.
But it was returned, and many other publishers also rejected
it. In 1901 she found a printer herself and he produced 250
copies of the book for a cost of £11. The books were then
sold to doting aunts and uncles for their nephews, nieces
and to friends for a price of 1s 2d. They sold well and more
were produced. Also, another book was brought out, named "The
Tailor of Gloucester" in 1902. In this year, Frederick Warne
contacted Beatrix and said they would publish "The Tale of
Peter Rabbit" if it could be published in colour. Then several
books followed-"The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin" and "The Tale
of Benjamin Bunny".
In 1905, Norman Warne, the son of the publisher, whom she
spent a lot of time with, proposed to her. Beatrix' parents
were upset at this, but she went ahead and became engaged
to him. In doing so, she disobeyed her parents for the first
time. During the summer of 1905 and a few weeks into their
engagement, he fell ill and died of leukemia.
Also in 1905 she used her earnings to buy Hill
Top, which was a farm in nearby Sawrey. Here, she would
be able to escape to from London. The next 8 years, while
based in London, she kept herself occupied by writing more
books. The ideas came from Hill Top when visiting the farm.
In 1909, with her income beginning to grow, she bought Castle
Cottage, a property just across the road from Hill Top, using
a solicitors at the W. Heelis offices in Hawkshead [which
are now the National Trust's "Beatrix
Potter Gallery"], In1913, she married Mr Heelis, despite
her parents disapproval. They lived together in Castle cottage.
It was a bigger and more convenient farm cottage than Hill
Top and it became her home for the next 30 years. Hilltop
now had a farm manager at one end and the part in which she
lived, remained empty and her possessions exactly as she left
them. This later became her personal museum.
Beatrix was now Mrs. Heelis, a woman farmer who only wrote
a few more books, rather giving herself to purchasing more
property in and around Sawrey. In 1923 she purchased Troutbeck
Park Farm and the Monk Coniston Estate in 1930, in which Tarn
Hows is situated.
was a passionate conservationist and as a farmer she became
best known for the breeding of Herdwick sheep, Lakeland's
own breed. She would talk more about the sheep than the books
she wrote attending exhibitions and judging them.
When she died on 22 December 1943, aged 77, Beatrix Potter
left £211,636, 14 farms and 4000 acres of land to the National
Trust, together with her flocks of Herdwick sheep. The copyright
of all her works went firstly to her husband and then onto
her favourite nephew, Norman Warne.
Don't forget to visit World
of Beatrix Potter Attraction at Windermere