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On this day in history in 1866, was born Beatrix Potter.
Potter was an author who created the anthropomorphic characters of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, and many others.
Helen Beatrix Potter was born on 28th 1866, at South Kensington, the daughter of heirs to a cotton fortune, who had no particular profession or vocation. Potter was educated by nannies and governesses until she was 18 years old, when she was appointed as her parentsí housekeeper. Her childhood was enlivened by extensive holidays in the Highlands, and the Lake District, encouraging her love of animals and inspiring her watercolour paintings. In 1887, she attempted to become a student at the Royal botanical Gardens, but was rejected because she was a woman.
In 1893, Potter designed an illustrated animal story book for a sick child of a former governess, about four bunny rabbits, named Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter. She made several copies of this text and sent them to other children, and they proved so popular that she decided to have the work published, as The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The publishers, Warne & Company, issued the work in a miniature format which could be easily gripped by the smallest child. The prose was simple, yet tinged with the Northern humour of the Lakelands, and the books were illustrated with Potterís own watercolours, running parallel to the text, giving the reader a visual image of the narrative. Over the next twenty years, Potter published a further 22 books, introducing such characters as Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.
In 1905, despite her parentís opposition, Potter became engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne, who sadly died before the marriage could take place. The incident caused a rift with her parents, whom she left and took up residence at Hill Top, a small farm in Sawrey, in the Lake District, funded from her royalties. In 1913, she married her solicitor, William Heelis, who encouraged her to expand her land holdings in the Lake District, and build up a collection of cottages and farms, devoted to the breeding of Lakeland Herdwick sheep. Potterís shrewd investments combined with her ability in estate-management, enabled her to build up 4000 acres of land, comprising 15 farms and hundreds of cottages. She resisted all calls for redevelopment, ensuring that the culture of fell farming, and the natural scenic beauty of the Lakelands, were preserved for posterity. At her death, she bequeathed her estates to the National Trust, to ensure that its natural beauty would remain unspoiled. Her legacy now forms a major part of the Lake District National Park.
Potter died on 22nd December 1943, at Hill Top Farm, Sawry, now preserved intact by the National Trust. [Beatrix Potter Museum, Hill Top, Sawrey LA22 0LF] Her funeral was held at Carlton Crematorium, Blackpool, and her ashes scattered at Hill Top.
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