Friday, February 22, 2008

I chose my Friday lady for sentimental reasons this week. I always loved her books when I was a kid.
We are all somewhat familiar with Beatrix Potter, right? She is most known for Peter Rabbit. My favorite was Jemima Puddle-Duck, though.

She was born in South Kensington, London, where she spent a very sheltered childhood, her only playmate being her younger brother, Bertram. They spent their summers in the Lake district. She amused herself from an early age by panting, usually finding things to paint at the Natural History Museum, or the nature of the Lake district. She also had many pets, including rabbits. (Go figure).
She never went to school, but had a governess at home who gave her lessens. From the age of 15, until she was past 30, she wrote her own journal of everyday life, in a code of writing she invented herself.
Though educated at home, she had a wide variety of interests, and actually spent some time developing a theor of the germination of fungus spores.
She made her debut as an author in 1890, when she sent a sick child some illustrated animal storied, which eventually found their way to a publisher. Her first book was "A Happy Pair", where the verses were written actually by Frederic Weatherly.
In 1893, she sent a letter to the child of her former governess, where she told the first version of what would become Peter Rabbit. She also illustrated the letter. She developed many of her characters this way, in letters. Peter Rabbit was privately printed in 1901, and then published later that year. In 1905, she became engaged to one of the publishers, Norman Warne. Tragically, he died a month into their engagement of leukemia.
She bought a farm in Sawrey, near where her family vacationed in the Lake District, and set up her residence there.1905 to 1913 were her most prolific years. She published a number of books with watercolor designs, which she oversaw both the production, and design of. She attempted to begin issuing her books in a larger format (remember how small her tales are?) they were not as successful, because the small books fit into smaller hands, better.
At the age of 47, she married a solicitor, William Heelis, and gradually, stopped writing. She began buying farms up in the Lake District, including a sheep farm, where she spent the her last 30 years raising sheep. Her life, at this time, involved conservation, buying land, and being a wife. She was very happy. In 1918, her eyesight began to diminish, truly ending her literary career. "Tale of Little Pig Robinson" was her last story.
She died, in 1943 at her home in the Lake District. Her home there is now open to the public. She left several thousand acres of land to the National Trust. Her journal was deciphered in and published in 1964.


stephanie said...

What a delightfully thorough bio. Wondering if you've seen Miss Potter with Renee Zelwegger? I haven't; would like to hear from a true fan if it's worth the time.

(Thanks for visiting me through Cami, btw).

mielikki said...

I have seen Miss Potter. It is worth watching, though, as most movies do, it takes a certain poetic liscence with her life. But the scenery in it is beautiful. Thanks for dropping by!

Mimi said...

I've not seen "Miss Potter" but do want to.

And, that was neat to read. Like you, I enjoy her books.

holly said...

the lake district is where my former neighbours religiously go on holiday, as it is reportedly extremely beautiful. i should check it out and report back.

although it's a fair few hours drive. possibly 3. maybe 4.

but i loves me some beatrix.

sybil law said...

She was awesome.
However, it's really kinda creepy to take her journals she obviously felt were fairly private and publish them. Ick.
Anyway, lovely! I haven't seen the movie. :(

Bubblewench said...

That was cool. She was pretty awesome.

david mcmahon said...

My mother read me the Beatrix Potter stories when I was little - and in turn I read them to my own children.

We still have the entire set at home!

Celtic Rose said...

I recently saw the movie and enjoyed it very much. Mielikki is right, the scenery is just beautiful. I am glad, Miss P. was able leave much of the land she bought in trust. It was/is good to keep it away from developers.