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Beatrix Potter

1886 - 1943

Beatrix Potter was born in England and lived there all her life. She is known today for her wonderful children's illustrated books, especially those with Peter Rabbit. 

From childhood, Beatrix was an avid student of Nature. She drew and painted all the animals she could find, and loved painting mushrooms. Her two strongest interests were always being in the natural world and painting what she saw there. 

Beatrix filled many sketchbooks and kept a journal all her life. As a child, she drew and painted from life, but usually in her room, where she brought creatures she and her brother had collected. Peter began as her own pet rabbit.

Beatrix at 16 with family
a page from her sketchbook at age 9
Early studies of a dead thrush, a mushroom, a mud turtle, a weasel
 
 
Beatrix as a young woman
Beatrix as an elder

Beatrix was financially self-supporting at a time (early 1900s) when women of her class were not really supposed to take care of themselves.Such behavior was frowned upon as not quite proper.

With money earned from her books she eventually bought land and became a farmer in England's Lake Country.

Beatrix Potter became widely respected throughout England as an expert on fungi (a mycologist) and lichens, although she was denied opportunities to present her studies to the British Royal Society, exclusively male. Beatrix made discoveries about lichens that endure today. By any standard, Beatrix Potter was a scientist.

She was also a respected watercolor painter; she painted many landscapes and over 270 watercolors of mushrooms. 

Chanterelle mushrooms, watercolor
fly agaric, watercolor
   
wooly foot mushroom
lemon yellow mushroom
parasol mushroom

 

Like many illustrators, Beatrix triggered her imagination with a sketch or cartoon, and finished later in watercolor.

images © Frederick Warne & Co., 1902,2002

 

 

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