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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?