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There are few readers today who can honestly say that Peter Rabbit and his fellow forest-and-field friends didn't have a presence in their reading as they were growing up. Beatrix Potter left us with a collection of children's works so adored, they're still being read and adapted for other mediums to this day. But behind each great story (or stories) there's another story of inspiration.
This is Beatrix Potter's.
Growing up fairly isolated and with few friends outside of her family circle, Beatrix Potter pursued a number of creative hobbies as a result of her parent's influence. Both her mother and her father were artistically talented, interested in nature, and enjoyed the countryside - all traits which Beatrix herself would go on to inherit.
Not only did she enjoy painting the countryside, a talent she would go on to utilise professionally later in her life (more on that soon), but she also found herself becoming directly involved in the countryside herself. Her love for critters of the forest and the field lead to her having a variety of pets, including, but not limited to, rabbits, mice, hedgehogs, and even bats. Yes, bats.
As she came into adulthood, Beatrix's parents unfortunately did not encourage higher education, as was typical for the Victorian Era. Though she did not study at university, she went on to study mycology, which stemmed from her passion for painting the wonderful colours of mushrooms and fungi. One dream of hers was for her illustrations and paintings to be published which, though not occurring in her lifetime, happened eventually in W. P. K. Findlay's Wayside and Woodside Fungi.
This was not the only instance of her career being hindered by her sex, as other research of hers was rejected by the Linnean Society solely due to her being female. Fortunately, in 1997, they posthumously apologised for their sexism in handling her work, and her research is now being reevaluated today. However, these difficulties in gaining the recognition she deserved as a woman in the Victorian Era lead to Beatrix pursuing a different passion - one that was rooted deep inside her long before womanhood...
The Real Story Begins
Ultimately, Beatrix's literary works were an accumulation of all of her passions brought together to bring us the stories we know and love today. Combining her beautiful and detailed illustrations, her love for animals, and her creative spark, she self-published her first story in 1901 for friends and family after being unable to find a publisher. However, in 1902 The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published for the masses, and Beatrix's talents were finally (and rightfully) recognised by the world - the book was an immediate success.
And so began the long and rewarding career of Beatrix Potter. Famed for her detailed descriptions of characters, including the unique qualities given to her beloved animals such as Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, along with her knack for storytelling and ability to write scenes any child can picture in their mind, she left her mark in literary history with twenty-three heart-warming children's tales. Though she wrote more mature books later in her life, these awe-inspiring stories are what she is truly remembered for, and why her name sparks joy in all of our hearts decades after she has gone.
But one thing is for certain, and that's the the magic of her stories remains. So here's to Beatrix Potter - may what she left us inspire many generations to come.