A drawing of Flopsy Bunnies I made in tribute to Beatrix Potter’s would-be-149th birthday. Drawn on Monologue Soft Sketchbook using Staedtler watercolour pencils and Dr. Ph. Martin’s liquid watercolour.
“I cannot rest, I must draw, however poor the result, and when I have a bad time come over me it is a stronger desire than ever.” – Beatrix Potter.
Helen Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist best known for her imaginative children’s books featuring animals such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which celebrated the British landscape and country life.
Her parents were artistic, interested in nature, and enjoyed the countryside. As children, Beatrix and her brother, Bertram, had numerous small animals as pets which they observed closely and drew endlessly. Summer holidays were spent away from London, in Scotland and in the English Lake District where Beatrix developed a love of the natural world which was the subject of her painting from an early age.
Her artistic talents were recognized early. She enjoyed private art lessons and developed her own style, favouring watercolour. She illustrated insects, fossils, archaeological artifacts, and fungi, along with her drawings of her animals, real and imagined.
In the 1890s, her mycological illustrations and research into the reproduction of fungus spores generated interest from the scientific establishment. Following some success illustrating cards and booklets, Potter wrote and illustrated The Tale of Peter Rabbit, publishing it first privately in 1901, and a year later as a small, three-colour illustrated book with Frederick Warne & Co. Windermere, in 1905.
She continued to write and illustrate, and to design spin-off merchandise based on her children’s books for Warne, until the duties of land management and her diminishing eyesight made it difficult to continue.
Potter published over 23 books; the best known are those written between 1902 and 1922. She died of pneumonia and heart disease on 22 December 1943 at her home in Near Sawrey (Lancashire) at age 77, leaving almost all her property to the National Trust. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park.
Potter’s books continue to sell throughout the world in many languages. Her stories have been retold in song, film, ballet, and animation. The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends, a TV series based on her stories, has been released on VHS by Pickwick Video and later Carlton Video.
You might want to try this quiz: Which Beatrix Potter character are you?, published by The Guardian, in celebration of what would be Beatrix Potter’s 149th birthday. Find out which of her most beloved animal characters you would be with this quiz!