Beatrix Potter, or Helen Beatrix Potter (July 28, 1866 - December 22, 1943) was a British children's book author and illustrator. Her most famous character is Peter Rabbit.
Her father, Rupert Potter, although educated as a barrister, spent his days at his Gentlemen's clubs and rarely practiced. Her mother spent her time visiting or receiving visitors. Both parents lived on incomes (inheritances) from their parents. Nannies and governesses raised Beatrix and her younger brother, Bertam. When she came of age, her parents appointed her their housekeeper and discouraged any intellectual development, instead requiring her to supervise the household. An uncle attempted to introduce her as a student at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, but she was rejected because she was a female.
The basis of her many art projects and stories were the small animals that she smuggled into the house or observed during family holidays in Scotland and the Lake District.
Potter was one of the first to suggest that lichens were a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae, but her one attempt to publish was thwarted. Her uncle had to read her paper at the scientific society because they did not admit females.
She was encouraged to publish her story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but she struggled to find a publisher until it was accepted in 1902. The small book and her following works were extremely well recieved and she gained an independent income from the sales. She also became secretly engaged with the publisher, Norman Warne, but her parents were set against her marrying anyone who worked for a living. He died before the engagement caused a breach between her and ther parents.
At the age of 47, Potter married her solicitor, William Heelis. They had no children. Her writing efforts abated around 1920 due to poor eyesight.
Potter wrote twenty-three books. These were published in a small format, easy for a child to hold and read:
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)
- The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (1903)
- The Tailor of Gloucester (1903)
- The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904)
- The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904)
- The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (1905)
- The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan (1905)
- The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher (1906)
- The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit (1906)
- The Story of Miss Moppet (1906)
- The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907)
- The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908)
- The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or, The Roly-Poly Pudding (1908)
- The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909)
- The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (1909)
- The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse (1910)
- The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes (1911)
- The Tale of Mr. Tod (1912)
- The Tale of Pigling Bland (1913)
- Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes (1917)
- The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse (1918)
- Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes (1922)
- The Tale of Little Pig Robinson (1930)
In her later years she bought and ran a sheep farm in the English Lake District; she loved the landscape, and with the steady stream of royalties from her books, along with the inheritance from her parents, she bought up large areas of local land. She had been a friend of one of the founders of the National Trust, and in her will, much of the property was left to the Trust - cottages, 15 farms, 4000 acres (16 kmē) of land - to ensure that its beauty could remain unspoiled. Her legacy is now part of the Lake District National Park.
Beatrix Potter died in Sawrey, Lancashire on December 22, 1943.
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