“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you.” – Beatrix Potter
This past week was the anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s most beloved writer/illustrators, Beatrix Potter.
Potter wrote and illustrated The Tale of Peter Rabbit, self-published first in 1901 just for herself, family and close friends. But those who read and saw it urged her to do more and in 1902 the 3-color edition was published by Frederick Warne & Company.
Although the book obviously should have been published for all to see, her editor Norman Warne had a bit of an ulterior motive, since he was wooing Beatrix to become his fiancée, which she did after the book’s broader release. Unfortunately Warne developed leukemia and died before they could wed.
She married in her later years and with the earnings from her books – she had done 23 by then – she and husband William Heelis purchased a large farm in Lancashire where she became a prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep and a prosperous farmer keenly interested in land preservation. She continued to write and illustrate, and to design spin-off merchandise based on her children's books for Warne, until the duties of land management and her diminishing eyesight made it difficult to continue.
Beatrix Potter and her most famous creation Peter
Potter died at age 77 in December, 1943, willing most of her property to the National Trust. Much of the land comprises the Lake District National Preserve, which includes a replica of Farmer McGregor’s Garden and small statues of Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and, of course, Peter.
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