Almost every child in the UK will have heard of the name Beatrix Potter as it’s a household British name in the world of children’s books.
Helen Beatrix Potter, most famously known as Beatrix Potter, was born in London in 1866. Despite growing up in the capital, her heart was set on the countryside, notably The Lake District, in the north-west of England, which inspired her to write her series of children’s books.
Although she was most famous for her children’s tales, she was also a renowned gardener, scientist, farmer and preservationist, working with others in each industry. Her love of each of these comes across as main themes in her writings.
Her most famous series was The Tale of Peter Rabbit, based on her pet rabbit, Peter. Beatrix Potter brings different farm animals to life in this series but focuses on the adventures of mischievous Peter Rabbit and his siblings, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail. The very first book was printed in 1901 as a small hardback. Not only did Potter write the story, but she illustrated it with watercolours too.
In the remainder of the series, other characters are brought to life, each with playful names and mischievous stories; Benjamin Bunny, Tom Kitten, Mr Jeremy Fisher, Mrs Tiggy-winkle, Squirrel Nutkin and Jemima Puddle-duck to name a few.
The tales were widely praised for their child-centred approach. The books were smaller in size than an average book, therefore more appropriate for children, the sentences are written in a way to engage young readers and serious issues such as wildlife and nature as well as death are presented and explained to children in a simplified yet dignified way.
The books were hugely successful and were eventually translated into 36 different languages, sold across the globe. To date, it is estimated around 45 million copies of the series have been sold making it one of the most successful books in the world. Beatrix Potter, was very entrepreneurial with her writings. She licensed the character, Peter Rabbit, meaning items such as soft toys, notebooks, wallpaper and board games were also sold. Ever since, the Tales have expanded and TV series, film adaptations, musical and ballet versions have been released.
In the Lake District, where Beatrix Potter eventually moved to, bought some farms and died, you can find her museum. The Beatrix Potter society also exists as a charity to promote her works and research into her life.