The Life of Beatrix Potter

Helen Beatrix Potter was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist and is best known for her childhood books such as ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ and ‘The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher’.

Educated at home her talent for drawing and painting was discovered at an early age and was encouraged by those around her. Throughout her childhood Beatrix and her brother Walter kept many small pets such as mice, rabbits, hedgehogs and bats in their schoolroom. Beatrix would keep an illustrative record of the animals including their species and breed. This was something she would later use as inspiration for her illustrative books.

Until 1887 the Potters took their Summer holidays in Scotland, but then came to stay in the Lakes for the first time at Wray Castle. Here she met and was greatly influenced by Herdwicke Rawnsley, the vicar of Wray, and later the founding secretary of the National Trust.

Wray Castle

In 1890 Potter devoted most of her time to studying natural history in particular archaeology, geology, entomology and mycology. Encouraged by Charles McIntosh, to make her fungi drawings more technically accurate, Potter not only produced beautiful watercolours, but also became an adept scientific illustrator. During this time Beatrix wrote picture letters to the children of her governess and in 1901 she turned one into her first book, ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’, with ‘The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin” and ‘The Tailor of Gloucester" to follow.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter

In 1905 Beatrix brought Hill Top Farm where she spent most of her time painting and writing. Some of her best books ‘The Tale of Tom Kitten’, ‘The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck’ and ‘The Tale of Samuel Whiskers’ were written here. The books reflect her life in the farmhouse and farming life. Beatrix married local solicitor William Heelis and moved into Castle Cottage on Castle Farm. Becoming deeply involved in the community, she served on committees to improve rural living, oppose hydroplanes on Lake Windermere, fund a nursing trust and developed a passion for breeding and raising Herdwick Sheep.

Hill Top - The home of Beatrix Potter

With her eyesight deteriorating Beatrix published her last book ‘The Tale of Little Pig Robinson" in 1930. Beatrix Potter Heelis died on 22 December 1943. After her death Potter left fifteen farms and over 4,000 acres of land to The National Trust which continues to protect and conserve the unique Lake District countryside.

To find out more about Beatrix Potter and her work visit:

Within The Lake District are various places connected to Beatrix which have been turned into galleries or museums by The National Trust. Discover Beatrix Potter’s original artwork with a trip to Beatrix Potter’s gallery in Hawkshead. The gallery is in a 17th century stone built house which is dedicated to the orginal book illustrations created by Beatrix.

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Get an insight into the home of Beatrix Potter with a visit to Hill Top house.

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The World of Beatrix Potter attraction in Bowness – on – Winderemere is a perfect day out for all the family. Relive the life of Beatrix Potter with a self - guided tour of the gardens and Beatrix’s much loved characters brought to life.

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