Thursday, July 5, 2007

Beatrix potter Bio

The Early YearsA Victorian Childhood
Beatrix Potter was born on July 28th, 1866 at No 2, Bolton Gardens, Kensington, 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.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's Holidays
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.It was while staying near Windermere in the Lake District in 1882 that the Potters became friendly with the local vicar, Canon Harwicke 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.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 stage, 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 own.Benjamin BouncerBenjamin Bouncer was Beatrix's first pet rabbit. She bought him secretly from a London bird shop and sneaked him into the nursery in a paper bag. 'Bounce' became the model for many of Beatrix's rabbit drawings. On the back of a photograph of him, Beatrix wrote "This is the original 'Benjamin Bunny'. Benjamin was extremely fond of hot buttered toast, he used to hurry into the drawing room when he heard the tea-bell!"Peter PiperPeter Piper was a Belgian buck rabbit 'bought at a very tender age'. Beatrix wrote in a letter to a child, "Peter used to lie before the fire on the hearth rug like a cat. He was clever at learning tricks, he used to jump through a hoop, and ring a bell, and play the tambourine. I saw him once trying to play the tambourine on a straw hat!"Mrs. Tiggy-winkleBeatrix wrote about her pet hedgehog in a picture letter to Winifred Warne: "Mrs. Tiggy-winkle is a great traveller. I don't know how many journeys she hasn't done. She enjoys going by train, she is always very hungry when she is on a journey . . . I think you must ask Mrs. Tiggy-winkle to tea, she will drink milk like anything out of a doll's tea-cup!"SpotSpot the spaniel was the Potter's adored family dog. Beatrix described him as 'a philosophical traveller' because he loved to ride in carriages, and could hardly be stopped from jumping in when any member of the family wished to go out in one. Beatrix admitted that she found dogs difficult to draw and though she kept a succession of sheepdogs in later life, she wrote, 'I respect dogs to a certain extent but I do not think they are moral characters.'XarifaWhen Beatrix was a child, she had a favourite dormouse who was 'a sleepy little animal'. When Beatrix recorded Xarifa's death, she wrote, 'Poor little thing, I thought at one time she would last as long as myself. I believe she was a great age. I wonder if ever another dormouse had so many acquaintances . . . I think she was in many respects the sweetest little animal I ever knew.' When Beatrix wrote The Fairy Caravan, one of the characters she wrote about was a little sleepy dormouse named Xarifa.Pig-wigPig-Wig was a little black Berkshire pig that Beatrix bought from a pedigree pig farmer. She wanted to put it with the other pigs at Hill Top Farm, but the farm manager refused to have it near the litter. So Beatrix put the little pig in a basket beside her bed, and bottle-fed it night and day, until it became her devoted pet and followed her everywhere, indoors and out.A Secret DiaryWhen 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.The Book YearsThe 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..."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 printed the book herself 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.Did you know that Beatrix Potter really owned a pet rabbit called Peter?RomanceIn 1903, Beatrix published two more books with Frederick Warne, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester. She had become a regular visitor to the Covent Garden offices of her publishers (in London) to discuss her books, and most of her dealings were with Norman Warne, the youngest son of the late Frederick Warne.Norman was the only unmarried son in the Warne family, and was a devoted uncle to his nephews and nieces. He and Beatrix became friends, and Beatrix became a welcome visitor at the Warne family home. Beatrix was delighted when she received a letter from Norman asking her to marry him, and though her parents did not approve of the match, she was determined to accept him.However, the wedding was not to be, for soon after the engagement, Norman fell ill and died of pernicious anaemia within a few weeks. Beatrix was devastated. She wrote in a letter to his sister, Millie, "He did not live long, but he fulfilled a useful happy life. I must try to make a fresh beginning next year."Hill Top FarmBeatrix had always loved the Lake District, 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.Many of Beatrix's later books were set at Hill Top - the rats that infested the farm inspired The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, Tom Kitten and his sisters climb up the rockery wall at the bottom of Hill Top garden, and Ginger and Pickles' shop is set in Sawrey village.The Lake DistrictBeatrix Potter Marries
Managing Hill Top Farm had taught Beatrix much about farming. Now, with the money earned from the Peter Rabbit books, she began to extend her property in the Lake District. She used a local solicitor, William Heelis, to advise her on her property dealings. William shared Beatrix's love of the Lake District, and the two had much in common. In 1912, William Heelis proposed marriage to Beatrix and she accepted.Once again, Beatrix's parents were displeased with the match, but Beatrix was firm and eventually they relented. William and Beatrix were married in October 1913 in London, when Beatrix was 47. They made their home at Castle Cottage, Sawrey.The National Trust
Beatrix first visited the Lake District in the summer of 1882 on a family holiday. There she became friendly with the local vicar, Canon Rawnsley. He was already concerned by the effects of industry and tourism on the natural beauty of the Lake District, and he taught Beatrix the importance of preserving the countryside.In 1895, Rawnsley helped to found The National Trust, an organisation set up to protect and preserve land and buildings of great beauty or historical importance. Beatrix kept its cause close to her heart all her life. With the income from The Peter Rabbit BooksTM she was able to buy and manage land for The National Trust. As a farmer herself, she tried to ensure that the traditional farming methods and the old way of doing things would not be forgotten.When she died in 1943, Beatrix Potter left 4000 acres of land to The National Trust, including 15 farms, cottages and many local areas of beauty including Tarn Hows. Her gift back to the land she loved was to help preserve it for future generations.Farmer and Sheep BreederBeatrix Potter had always been passionately interested in 'real' animals, and after her marriage to William Heelis she was able to settle in the Lake District permanently, and devote herself almost entirely to her farming.Beatrix took a very active part in caring for her Lake District farms. 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.With her shepherd, Tom Storey, she bred Herdwick sheep - a rare and threatened breed indigenous to the Lake District. She encouraged the revival of Herdwick sheep in all her farms, and her sheep won most of the major prizes at local shows. In 1930, Beatrix became the first woman to be elected President of the Herdwick Sheepbreeders' Association, which was a great achievement and a sign of the high regard in which she was held by the local farming community.The Legacy of Beatrix Potter
When The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published, Beatrix Potter could have had little idea quite how successful it would become. Today, The Tale of Peter Rabbit and the rest of her Peter Rabbit BooksTM are known and loved by children and adults all over the world.Alongside her books, Beatrix began to take an interest in merchandising. She patented a Peter Rabbit doll, a jigsaw puzzle, Peter Rabbit wallpaper and even a Peter Rabbit game, devised by Beatrix herself. These merchandising 'side-shows' as Beatrix called them, continue to be a great success today, with a wider range of merchandise than ever before.Hill Top was bequeathed to The National Trust after Beatrix's death. In 1946 it was opened to the public and receives thousands of visitors each year.The National Trust continues to upkeep the 4000 acres of land that Beatrix Potter bequeathed to the organisation in her will. They work in partnership with local farmers, maintaining the unique dry-stone walls and footpaths, and protecting the Lake District that she so loved as a living, working landscape.Beatrix Potter's ArtBeatrix Potter's Art
Beatrix Potter began to draw at a very early age, encouraged by her parents, Rupert and Helen. Her earliest drawings were mostly sketches of plants and animals.The family's friendship with the painter Millais, gave her an insight into the world of artists and visits to the Royal Academy developed her critical skills. She very much enjoyed the work of Gainsborough, Reynolds, Raphael and Titian. There are many detailed accounts of her visits to these exhibitions in her Journal.During the 1890s Beatrix concentrated on natural history and in particular fungi, although at the same time she was earning a small income by selling illustrations for booklets, greetings cards and albums. Throughout her life she was guided by the principle of portraying nature as accurately as possible in her art.Beatrix Potter is usually associated with her famous animal character illustrations, and many people are surprised to learn of the wide variety of subjects in her sketches and paintings, ranging from animals to landscapes, flowers to fossils.Natural HistoryMany of Beatrix Potter's sketchbooks and schoolbooks can still be seen today. Most of her drawings were of the pets that she and her brother Bertram kept, and of plants.Drawings of AnimalsBeatrix Potter kept many different kinds of pets such as rabbits, hedgehogs, mice, lizards, newts, frogs, bats and toads. When she wrote and illustrated her Peter Rabbit books, she knew all about the animal characters that she was creating from having watched her own pets and their behaviour.Drawings of Plants
Drawings of flowers, mostly posies or pretty arrangements in colourful vases, were some of Beatrix Potter's earliest works.Plants and flowers are often important in the illustrations found in The Peter Rabbit books. Look for the foxgloves in The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, the onions Peter Rabbit has trouble with in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, and the lily pads which Mr. Jeremy Fisher uses as a boat in which to go fishing.Study of Fungi
Beatrix Potter's first studies of fungi were painted in 1888, whilst on holiday at Lingholm in the Lake District. Over the next ten years she devoted many hours to her work, presenting a scientific paper on the germination of spores to the Linnean Society in April 1897. Although her findings were rejected at the time, experts now consider that she was right.Helped by the Perthshire Naturalist, Charles McIntosh, whom she met in 1892, she painted hundreds of watercolours of all varieties of fungi. Indeed McIntosh praised her for the botanical accuracy of her work. Sixty of her paintings were used in 1967 to illustrate Dr W P K Findlay's Wayside and Woodland Fungi and collections of her work are cared for by the Armitt Library in Ambleside and by Perth Museum.Drawings of Insects
Poor Mrs. Tittlemouse had all sorts of insect intruders in her home. A "most terribly tidy particular little mouse", she chased away a beetle, a ladybird, a spider and a butterfly, as well as persuading Mr. Jackson to remove a whole nest of bees.Landscapes
Beatrix Potter's sketchbooks, many of them held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and by The National Trust, contain many landscape drawings of the significant places in her life. Some were even used as backgrounds for the illustrations in her Peter Rabbit books.Picture lettersDid 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, and she made up a whole series of correspondence between the characters in her books as delightful miniature letters.Beatrix Potter's Art
Long before Beatrix Potter had published her own books, she drew illustrations for some of her favourite stories as a child - Cinderella and the Brer Rabbit stories by Uncle Remus. She drew these mostly to please herself, although sometimes she would give the pictures to friends and relatives.In the early 1890s her first published work appeared - greetings card designs and illustrations for a booklet, A Happy Pair, for the publisher Hildesheimer & Faulkner. These early drawings represent some of the best of Beatrix Potter's imaginative art.

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