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Adapted from “About Beatrix Potter”

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1 Adapted from “About Beatrix Potter”

2 A Victorian Childhood Beatrix Potter was born on July 28th, 1866 at No 2, Bolton Gardens, Kensington in London. A typical Victorian family, the Potters lived in a large house with several servants. Beatrix was cared for by a nurse, and she spent long hours alone, only seeing her parents at bedtime and on special occasions.

3 Bertram Her brother Bertram was born when she was six, and the children were educated at home by a governess until Bertram was old enough to attend school. Beatrix stayed at home under the care of a sequence of governesses who encouraged her to read and write and taught her music and art. Beatrix Potter discovered her love of nature on annual summer holidays in Scotland and the Lake District. She and Bertram explored the woods and fields, caught and tamed wild animals, and sketched and painted all they saw. Beatrix Potter discovered her love of nature on annual summer holidays in Scotland and the Lake District. She and Bertram explored the woods and fields, caught and tamed wild animals, and sketched and painted all they saw.

4 The Countryside It was while staying near Windermere in the Lake District in 1882 that the Potters became friendly with the local gentleman, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Rawnsley was already concerned by the effects of industry and tourism on the natural beauty of the Lake District. He taught Beatrix the importance of preserving the countryside, a cause that was to remain close to her heart for the rest of her life.

5 A Secret Diary When Beatrix was fifteen, she began to keep a journal written in a secret code of her own invention. Even Beatrix herself, when she read back over it in later life, found it difficult to understand. It was not until fifteen years after her death that the code was cracked. To the outside world Beatrix appeared a shy and reserved person but in her diary she was able to express herself openly, and she showed herself to be a strong critic of the artists, writers and politicians of the day.

6 Beatrix Potter’s Pets Mr. and Mrs. Potter were overprotective parents and discouraged friendships with other children, but Beatrix and Bertram had each other for company and together they collected a menagerie of pets which they kept in the schoolroom. At one time, they had a green frog, two lizards, some water newts, a ring-snake, a tortoise and a rabbit, all of which were carefully studied by the children. Beatrix covered pages with sketches of them and almost all of her famous characters are based on the pets that she used to keep; for example Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny were based on the real pet rabbits Peter Piper and Benjamin Bouncer.

7 Picture Letters Did Beatrix Potter like children? The many letters she wrote to them, and pictures she drew for them, all seem to suggest that she did, very much. Some of Beatrix Potter's little books began as letters she wrote to children, with little pen and ink drawings to illustrate them. She made up a whole series of correspondence between the characters in her books as delightful miniature letters.

8 The Tale of Peter Rabbit
"Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter." This is the introduction to one of the best-loved children's stories of all time - The Tale of Peter Rabbit. However, the story of how Beatrix Potter's most famous character came to have a book published about him is another tale entirely. On September 4th, 1893, Beatrix sat down to write a picture letter to Noel Moore, the five-year-old son of her ex-governess, all about a naughty rabbit called Peter. Noel was ill in bed and so Beatrix wrote to him: "My dear Noel, I don't know what to write to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits..."

9 Publishing Peter Rabbit
Some years later, Beatrix thought of publishing the story as a book. She rewrote it into an exercise book and sent it to six publishers. It was rejected by every one of them. It was not until Beatrix had arranged to print the book privately that Frederick Warne agreed to publish it. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published in 1902, costing one shilling (the equivalent of just 5p today,) and became one of the most famous stories ever written. Though Beatrix always believed in her book, even she was surprised by quite how popular it became. It was an overnight success, and she believed that this was because the story had originally been written for a real child. Peter Rabbit has always been Beatrix Potter's most popular character - he also features in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, and The Tale of Mr. Tod.

10 Hill Top Farm Beatrix had always loved the Lake District since childhood holidays, and now, with the money she was earning from her Peter Rabbit books she was able to buy Hill Top Farm in the village of Sawrey. She kept on the farm manager, John Cannon, and invested in a flock of Herdwick sheep. She could not stay in her beloved new home because she was expected to take care of her parents in London, but it was her first step to independence, and she visited it whenever she could. Beatrix Potter had always been passionately interested in 'real' animals, and after her marriage to William Heelis in 1913 she was able to settle in the Lake District permanently, and devote herself almost entirely to her farming. By the end of her life, Beatrix has bought fifteen farms, and took a very active part in caring for them. Dressed in her clogs, shawl and old tweed skirt, she helped with the hay making, waded through mud to unblock drains and searched the fells for lost sheep. She said she was at her happiest when she was with her farm animals.

11 Tragic Love Norman Warne
The youngest Warne brother, Norman was the only unmarried son in the Warne family, and was a devoted uncle to his nephews and nieces. Norman dealt with Beatrix Potter's books working closely with her as she oversaw every aspect of the book's design and production. In 1905 Norman asked Beatrix to marry him and she was very happy to accept. Unfortunately her engagement had to remain secret as her parents were appalled at the match, seeing someone who worked in trade rather than in a profession as entirely unsuitable for their daughter. Tragically on August 25, one month after he had proposed, Norman died from pernicious anaemia, he was aged 37. Beatrix was devastated but she did her best to overcome her grief by devoting herself to her work. She wrote in a letter to Norman's sister, Millie, "He did not live long, but he fulfilled a useful happy life. I must try to make a fresh beginning next year."

12 Miss Potter Centred around the relationship between Beatrix Potter and Norman Warne, which developed while they worked together on the publication of the first few Peter Rabbit books and ended tragically in his early death, this Hollywood film starred Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. Directed by Chris Noonan (Babe) it took an incredible fourteen years to get from script to screen. It tells the fascinating tale of an incredible woman who created one of the world's most enduring characters and became an author and artist of independent means in Victorian England.

13 A Lady’s Legacy Beatrix passed away on December 22, 1943 at the age of 77. Beatrix authored and illustrated more than 30 children’s books in her lifetime. In her will, Potter left almost all of her property to the National Trust — 4,000 acres (16 km²) of land, cottages, and 15 farms. The legacy has helped ensure that the Lake District and the practice of fell farming remain unspoiled to this day. Her properties now lie within the Lake District National Park. The Trust's 2005 Swindon headquarters are named "Heelis" in her honour. Her literary estate is owned by Chorion, a media rights company that specialises in classic British children's characters. Beatrix Potter Gallery, a gallery run by the National Trust and situated in a 17th-century Lake District townhouse in Hawkshead, Cumbria, England, now displays her original book illustrations.

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