Illustration by Pete Stewart
Drawing upon her own eclectic travels as well as her knowledge of folklore, Beatrix Potter hailed from a family of academics (her great-grandfather, L.J. Potter, was a parliamentarian). Initially, the desire to create a new world, brought about by a desire to escape from the austerity of Victorian England, was to be her lifelong passion. But the purchase of an early fish and chip shop was one of the first of many small, unexpected acts of bravery. At 12, Beatrix ventured into the shop as a bored customer, used to her father encouraging her to not sit on the counter. She stuck around and was promptly asked to join the staff. When she wanted to quit, her father smiled and said, “Well, at least you’re moving into something that will help bring the money in.”
Finally, it was towards the end of her childhood when her skills and creativity truly began to flourish. After a couple of attempts at entering contests for local schools, Beatrix received her first boisterous applause. She continued to win prizes and led a full and colourful life, not just as a successful writer and illustrator.
From artefacts to clothing
Apart from the consistent stream of book sales, it is Beatrix’s writings that will resonate with the public forever. The wild goose chase that is Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s quest to find a missing nutcracker will stay with readers forever. Her beguiling and playful nature is still so much in evidence, bringing to life her stories in such a captivating way. She will be remembered as one of the most successful and respected British writers.