Author, artist, botanist and businesswoman, Beatrix Potter was a multi-talented and inspirational woman whose charming books have delighted generations of young readers. Find out more about the creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and many other unforgettable stories.
1. Born on 28 July 1866 in Kensington, London, Beatrix enjoyed a childhood full of art and nature, alongside her little brother, Walter.
The siblings often sketched their numerous pets, including rabbits, mice, frogs, lizards, snakes and even a bat! Beatrix quickly developed an enduring fascination with the natural world, reinforced by her tranquil summers in the Scottish countryside and Lake District.
2. Beatrix owned rabbits as a child which inspired the creation of her beloved bunny characters.
She would take her first rabbit, Benjamin Bouncer, for walks on a lead and feed him buttered toast. Her second rabbit, Peter Piper, accompanied her everywhere.
3. Beatrix never went to school, but was nonetheless a diligent student.
Her parents employed an art teacher, Miss Cameron, and several governesses, including Annie Moore, to whom Beatrix remained close throughout her life.
4. The artistic and intelligent young Beatrix was invited to study fungi at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, where she produced hundreds of meticulous botanical drawings and investigated cultivation and growth.
She became a skilful scientific illustrator and developed her own theory of how fungus spores reproduced, recording it in a paper entitled 'On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae'.
5. Beatrix was an illustrator before she was an author and loved to draw illustrations for her favourite stories, including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Cinderella.
Her earliest published works were designs and illustrations for greetings cards for the publisher Hildesheimer & Faulkner.
6. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was rejected by several publishers, so, in December 1901, Beatrix decided to publish the story herself, printing 250 copies.
It was an instant success and drew the attention of the publishing house Frederick Warne & Co., which had previously rejected it. They published it with full-colour illustrations in October 1902 and it became an immediate bestseller.
7. Beatrix developed a relationship with her editor at the publishing house, Norman Warne.
Despite Beatrix's parents' opposition, the two were engaged in 1905 - but Norman tragically died from leukaemia just a month later.
8. Beatrix was a savvy businesswoman. She designed the first Peter Rabbit doll herself and had it licensed at the patent office, making Peter Rabbit the world's oldest licensed literary character.
She investigated further merchandise options, too, such as bedroom slippers, tea sets and a board game, but was always adamant that they must remain faithful to her original illustrations.
9. She used her income to invest in farmland in her beloved Lake District.
During her lifetime, she bought 15 farms and was very involved in caring for them.
Hill Top House
10. As she invested, she developed a relationship with William Heelis, a local solicitor, who proposed to her in 1912.
They lived together at Castle Cottage in the Lake District until Beatrix's death in 1943. She left a wonderful legacy, gifting over 4,000 acres of land and 14 farms to the National Trust. Hill Top Farm, which inspired many of her stories, has been left exactly as it was when she lived there, and receives thousands of visitors every year.
Make sure to browse our range of beautiful Beatrix Potter books.