Monday, July 28, 2008

Beatrix Potter in London

July 28 is the birthday of Peter Rabbit author Helen Beatrix Potter-she was born in London on 28 July 1866 and died on 22 December 1943. Not too long ago an original watercolor illustration by Beatrix Potter for the final scene from the Rabbit Christmas Party set a new auction record in London at 289,250 pounds.

Beatrix Potter invented the character Peter Rabbit in an illustrated letter to the child of her former governess in 1893. It remains the world’s bestselling children’s book, with more than 80 million copies in circulation.

In order to authenticate some of her illustrations she frequently visited London’s Natural History Museum and, in particular, the Geology Department. Before she took up writing children’s books it is clear that Beatrix Potter had the mind of a professional scientist and biologist. Many of her findings, particularly in the field of mycology (fungi) led the young Beatrix Potter to approach the Royal Botanic Gardens with various theories. They were not interested in her work and refused to discuss it as she was female.

Of course, if Beatrix Potter had succeeded as an expect on mushrooms, we would have never had all those wonderful Peter Rabbit books. As it is she left London behind and moved to Scotland's Lake District. Hill Top, one her homes there, ranks as the most visited literary shrine in the Lake District, a remarkable achievement in 'Wordsworth Country'.

In 2006 Renee Zellweger made a film called Miss Potter, which I somehow managed to miss. The story of Beatrix Potter, the author of the beloved and best-selling children's book, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit", and her struggle for love, happiness and success. I may have to watch today in her honor.

Thanks for all the great books, Beatrix.

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