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Beatrix drew the animals she observed throughout her life

Beatrix Potter, the mastermind behind The Tale of Peter Rabbit, lived a quiet way life, appreciating simple pleasures.  She shared these simple pleasures with the masses.  She was born in London on July 28, 1866 and lived a lonely and sheltered Victorian childhood.  Her parents discouraged her from making friends her own age.  Beatrix had the privilege of meeting famous artists, politicians, and thinkers, but this means little to a young girl who just wants a friend.  She was educated at home by governesses.  Having little opportunity to make friends, nature became her one true friend for the rest of her life.
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Beatrix spent summer holidays with her family in an area of the country known as Lake District.  She drew from a young age, observing her pets, other animals, and plants.  She devoted much of her life to farming and countryside conservation, probably due to her early life and love of her memories at Lake District.

Beatrix Potter's house

Beatrix Potter's house

A bit of a late bloomer, Beatrix did not begin her career as a children’s author and illustrator until she was 35 years old.  She was quite dedicated to her vision of Peter Rabbit.  More than six publishers rejected The Tale of Peter Rabbit, so she printed two hundred and fifty copies privately.  Beatrix was interested in all aspects of book production, from the conception of the story, to the binding.  She made her books as cheap as possible to reach as many children as she could; after all, they could buy it with pocket change.  Her books were tiny to accommodate her readers’ tiny hands.  By the end of 1903, over 50,000 copies of Peter Rabbit had sold.  The publishers that rejected this classic tale must have been regretting their rejection.
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Being a keen businesswoman, Beatrix paid close attention to what her audience desired.  She looked for innovative ways to capitalize on her creations.  Shortly after publishing Peter Rabbit, she created a Peter Rabbit doll, which was followed by wallpaper and a board game.  She tested her prose on her friends’ children who were always thrilled by her tales.  The merchandising began with Beatrix’s interest in finding new ways to expand her imaginary world.  Her tales have been translated into over 35 languages and have been published all over the world.

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Beatrix always wrote what she knew and was inspired by real animals and their unique personalities.  The real Peter Rabbit was Beatrix’s pet, “Peter Piper.”  She often sketched him in front of the fire lying on the hearth rug.  The Tale of Benjamin Bunny is modeled after her first pet rabbit who she smuggled into the nursery in a brown bag.  His name was “Benjamin H. Bouncer” and he was fond of treats and hot buttered toasts!
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Beatrix with Peter Rabbit

Beatrix with Peter Rabbit

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The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, is based on a farm duck who often scampered off to lay eggs in secret nesting places.  Sometimes Beatrix had to use a hen to sit on Jemima’s eggs.  Jemima was always scampering off somewhere, neglecting her eggs.  Beatrix blended fantasy and reality flawlessly.  Her imaginary world was filled with truth.  This tale in particular is so closely associated with Hill Top Farm that it has been described as a “poem of the farm itself.”  The farm’s idyllic landscapes are still recognizable today.

For the last thirty years of her life, Beatrix focused on preserving her beloved land that inspired so many stories.  She preserved Lake District for future generations and ensured the area would be untouched by developers.  In her seventies she wrote, “as I lie in bed, I can walk step by step on the fells and rough lands, seeing every stone and flower...where my old legs will never take me again.”  Towards the end of her life she stated, “If I have done anything -- even a little -- to help small children appreciate honest, simple pleasures, I have done a bit of good.”

Beatrix at her beloved Hill  Top Farm

Beatrix at her beloved Hill Top Farm

Beatrix Potter has done quite a bit of good.  We at Kards Unlimited love her to pieces!  She shares our love of animals, nature, simplicity, gardening, children, and imagination!!!  We have a complete collection of her tales that includes even more information on this amazing woman’s life.  Did you know she was engaged and within a month her fiance died?  Yep, that tragic bit of information is in the book, along with much more!  If you have kids, or you are a kid at heart, these tales will warm your soul and make you want to find animals to observe!  So come in to KU, grab a sketchbook, then go back out and bond with nature!  And if this post gave you the gardening itch, we sell “Garden-in-a-Bag,” it makes gardening a sitch.  Go forth into the world and make Beatrix Potter proud on her birthday!!!!
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So, what do you think?