This is the 150 year anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter!
Beatrix Potter, born on 28th July 1866, was not only a successful writer and illustrator of "little books", as she called them; books that have become woven into the fabric of so many of our childhood memories, but she was also an intelligent, independent and ambitious woman, in a time when these qualities were not generally nurtured or encouraged in women.
She always drew and painted from a young age, sketching animals, family pets and plants, of which fungi in particular captured her imagination. She was fascinated by the natural world around her.
Under the encouragement of reclusive Scottish Naturalist, Charles McIntosh, she began to make her sketches more technically accurate and became a proficient scientific illustrator. Going against the prohibitions of women in science at that time, she developed her own theories and wrote a scientific paper about fungi germination and reproduction. The paper was then presented to the Linnean Society of London by mycologist (fungi expert), George Massee, from the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, as women were not permitted to attend these meetings.
So not only was she a children's writer and illustrator, but also a forward thinking botanist and scientific illustrator. And on top of these she was also a business woman, farmer AND conservationist.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was initially rejected by publishers, so Beatrix, clearly a strong minded woman, decided to publish it herself in 1901 for friends and family. Its success convinced the publishers Frederick Warne & Co to reconsider their earlier rejection, and they published The Tale of Peter Rabbit in colour in October 1902. Of course, it was a hit!
She fell in love with her editor, Norman Warne, but his proposal was not welcomed by her family as he worked 'in trade'. Regardless, they became unofficially engaged in 1905, against her parent's wishes, but sadly Noman fell ill suddenly a month later and died of leukaemia. The marriage never took place.
In 1913 Beatrix married William Heelis, a solicitor who helped her buy various properties in the Lake District, and as a huge supporter of the National Trust, she left them 15 farms and over 4,000 acres of land when she died in 1943.
If you would like to see all of Beatrix Potter's Official Collector's Edition Prints, please click here.