Friday, April 20, 2012

Beatrix Potter: A True Victorian Super-hero

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So I kind of really love Beatrix Potter. I mean, this is a lady who was far ahead of her time. She defied the typical conventions that Victorian England tried to dictate and went on to become one of the most beloved children's writers of all time. Like I said: AWESOME. So because this Victorian lady has some major swag, and in honor of last month's 110th Peter Rabbit Anniversary, I present you with ten things you might not know about Beatrix Potter...

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1) When she was a child, Beatrix had almost no contact with children. She spent most of her time in the company of her governess and her many pets. 
2) Her uncle encouraged her artistic bent by taking her outside to draw nature, but she never had any formal training. Talk about a natural.
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3) "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" was actually based on her real pet rabbit, Peter, and was originally a letter she illustrated to send to a friend. She was often seen walking Peter on a leash through London.
4) All 23 of Miss Potter's books were published in miniature so that children would have an easier time reading them.
5) Beatrix and her publisher, Mr. Norman Warne, fell in love over the course of their working relationship. Mr. Warne proposed via letter because Beatrix's parents forbade them from seeing each other. She accepted and was allowed to wear his ring as long as she didn't speak of the engagement to anyone (her parents were such LOVE KILLERS), but Norman became ill with a rare form of leukemia and died before they could be married.
6) Norman actually built Miss Potter a dollhouse and other miniatures so that she could properly illustrate her animal's adventures.
7) Some of her animal characters were actually based on a combination of people she knew and her pets. (I don't know whether I would've been insulted or excited!)
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8) When she was 47, Beatrix married Mr. William Heelis, a country solicitor, and they lived the rest of their lives happily on her vast estate in the Lake District of England.
9) When Beatrix passed away, her secret journal was found, but the entire thing was written in code! It took 15 years to decipher her complicated writings.
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10) Upon her death, Beatrix's entire estate: 14 farms and 4,000 acres, was bequeathed to the National Trust. It is largely due to her extraordinary efforts to preserve her beloved Lake District that it remains largely uncommercial today.

3 comments:

  1. Confession time: I've *never* read a single book by Beatrix Potter. Isn't it crazy? I've always admired them from afar but never actually thought to open the books and read them myself. Having said that, it's clear her illustrations are awesome and that she was a pretty radical woman for her time. And I love that she walked her rabbit on a leash through London! Imagine the stares she must've gotten...

    Have you seen "Miss Potter"? I wanted to kill her parents when Norman died - in the film it makes out that they ask her to wait it out and see if their love is real. I was torn between despair and anger :'(

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  2. Oh, you really should! They're so lovely! The illustrations are so good they make me wish I was an artist! I've actually got a little collection of vintage copies that I've collected from various places over the years.

    "Miss Potter" is so good!!!!! When Norman dies it kills me EVERY TIME! I'm so glad though that she got a happy ending!

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  3. I loved reading her books as a child! I was charmed even then. What a woman from her time! She's so inspiring. And I want her painting skills to rub off in me, please!!! I visited a place in Scotland she used to vacation as a child and it was so beautiful. I literally have pictures of the grass alone. And it's so cool about her cryptic letters and property in the Lake District!! When are we moving? Ah! It's been ages since I've seen Miss. Potter. Dying for another viewing now!

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