I wonder how many of you have already heard of Beatrix Potter? Perhaps you have read one of her stories or maybe you have had one of her stories read to you? We have put together a number of challenges about Beatrix Potter and hope that you will enjoy doing them, learning more about Beatrix Potter, her family and friends and how you can make your own family history connections.
Beatrix Potter’s full name was really Helen Beatrix Potter and she was born in London 28th July 1866, but she was known to millions of people simply as Beatrix Potter. Beatrix was a writer, an illustrator, a natural scientist, sheep farmer and a conservationist. She is probably best remembered for her books which were called: The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and the Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. Her books have been translated into more than 35 languages and have sold over 100 million copies! And, because her stories and drawings were so successful, later in life Beatrix was able to buy a large amount of land located in the Lake District in the Northwest of England.
When she was small, she lived with her family in London very near to the Natural History Museum. She loved to visit and spent many there making drawings. As she grew up one of her favourite things to draw were mushrooms! She used to look at them very, very closely and carefully so that she could get all the details correct. She made dozens of watercolour drawings of mushrooms and toadstools when she was about 20 years old. Beatrix never went to school but was educated at home by a ‘governess’. A governess is a special type of teacher that lives at home with the family. Her last governess was a lady called Annie Carter. Annie became a close friend to Beatrix.
Beatrix also spent many lovely holidays in Scotland and the Lake District with her family and dedicated her time to drawing and sketching the surroundings. She enjoyed observing the behaviour and habits of various creatures and animals. She liked to make drawings of animals from every angle and sometimes even when they were moving. People think that this is what made her drawings so special.
In 1913, at the age of 47 Beatrix married a man called William Heelis (b. 2 December 1871) He was the son of Rev. John Heelis and Esther Martin. William Heelis was a country solicitor with a company called W.H. Heelis & Son and this company was owned by his Uncle William Hopes Heelis and located in the village of Hawkshead, Cumbria. William and Beatrix were married at St Marys Abbots, Kensington, London on 14th October 1913. After their marriage they lived at Castle Cottage, Near Sawrey, Cumbria in the Lake District. They did not have any children.
After her marriage she became a farmer and was very committed to the conservation of Herdwick sheep. These are a special breed of sheep which come from the Lake District. She had her very own Herdwick flock and was keen to breed the best animals. She succeeded in this, winning awards at local agricultural shows and the respect of local Lake District farmers.
On her death the land and farms she owned were donated to the National Trust which still promotes and preserves places of natural beauty and historic interest today. Beatrix owned 14 working farms along with 4,000 acres of land which now makes up part of the Lake District National Park.
Beatrix Potter Heelis and her dog Kep
Wikicommons (Public domain)