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 Beatrix Potter  (1866 - 1943)

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Lived/Active: England      Known for: children's book illustrator and writer-animals

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Ad Code: 3
Beatrix Potter
from Auction House Records.
A RABBIT'S TEA PARTY
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

An illustrator in watercolors and author of children's books including The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), The Tailor of Gloucester (1903) and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909), Beatrix Potter became internationally famous for her stories that 'humanized' animals such as Mrs. Tiggy Winkle, the hedgehog, and the garden thieving Peter Rabbit.

She was born in South Kensington, London, to wealthy parents, who had inherited Lancashire cotton industry land.  Potter was raised in London and had a carefree childhood with tutoring from a governess but no formal schooling.  She had obvious talent for drawing, and spent much time sketching at the Natural History Museum in London or at the family farm near Sawrey in the Lake District in northern England on summer holidays with her family.  She also had many pets including rabbits, and from the age of 15 until her mid 30s kept a daily-life diary that she wrote in special code.  It was not deciphered until many years later.

Her writing and illustration was first introduced to the public in the 1890s when Frederick Warne & Company published a book of her illustrated animal stories with the title A Happy Pair.  She signed it H.B.P. for her formal name, which was Helen Beatrix Potter.  In 1893, she submitted the first version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and it was privately published in 1901, and then later published by Frederick Warne & Company.  Potter became engaged to Norman Warne of the publishing family, but he died of leukemia a month after the engagement.

Her career took off, and she was especially productive between 1905 and 1913.  An industry developed around her work including the creation of cartoon films, pottery, and stuffed toys.

When she was age 47, she married William Heelis, a solicitor, and increasingly set aside her writing and illustrating, and became a sheep breeder and advocate for land conservation.  The couple had met when she purchased Castle Farm from his family in Sawrey, Lancastershire.  In 1923, after their marriage, she inherited substantial land and money from her parents.  She used her inheritance to purchase a sheep farm where, for the next 30 years, she raised Herdwick sheep.  Called Hill Top Farm, it was several thousand acres, which she willed to the National Trust.

It was said that her "marriage was happy.  She continued the life she loved best - as a conservationist, landowner, solicitor's wife, and farmer.  Her literary work deteriorated with her eyesight after 1918, diminishing gradually by 1930s.  Tale of Little Pig Robinson was the only story of note to appear in her declining years.  Potter told her husband little about her life before her marriage."

She died in Sawrey, England, on December 22, 1943, and her home has since been opened to the public.


Source:
http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/bpotter.htm

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