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(Helen) Beatrix Potter


1866 - 1943

English authoress and illustrator. Born in London, Potter was educated at home, while her brother was sent to boarding school. This lonely existence gave rise to her love of her pets and enthusiasm for drawing. Her father trained as a barrister, but was of independent means and therefore worked little. Each summer he rented a house and between 1871 and 1881 the family stayed at Dalguise House in Strath Tay. Thus came Potter's connection with Scotland. These experiences greatly influenced Potter, extending her interest in animals and making conservation of the countryside very important to her.

Her parents discouraged further education and she became their housekeeper. However she kept journals of her life and was responsible for scientific investigation of lichens, illustrated by her own drawings.

She went on to write many books for children with characters such as Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, illustrated by her own watercolour drawings. Her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was published in 1902. This was followed by a further twenty-two, with her last, The Tale of Little Pig Robinson, appearing in 1930.

With the proceeds of these books she bought Hill Top Farm in the English Lake District. Over the years she added to this property, buying tracts of land with the help of local solicitor William Heelis, whom she married in 1913. By the end of her life she had accumulated fifteen farms, numerous cottages and more than 1618 ha (4000 acres) of land, most of which was gifted to the National Trust on her death.

The film, The Tales of Beatrix Potter (1971) saw her stories reinterpreted as a ballet. Her life was dramatised by the BBC as The Tale of Beatrix Potter (1982) and in the film Miss Potter (2006) starring Renee Zellwegger, Ewan McGregor (b.1971) and Bill Paterson (b.1945).

The Beatrix Potter Garden in Birnam remembers her connections with Perthshire.

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