THIS year marks a fantastic double celebration – not only is it the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth, it’s also The World of Beatrix Potter’s 25th birthday.
Marketing manager at the Cumbrian attraction Sarah Melhuish told us the Honest Truth about the famous author and her well-loved characters.
Who was Beatrix Potter?
She was an English author, illustrator, farmer and passionate conservationist who was born in London in 1866 and later moved to the Lake District.
She is best known for her 23 tales of animal life in the Lake District.
How did she come to publish her first Peter Rabbit book?
The story of naughty Peter Rabbit first appeared in a picture letter Beatrix wrote to Noel Moore, the young son of her former governess, in 1893.
Several years later she expanded it into a little picture book, which was rejected by several publishers.
She then had it printed herself to give to friends and family.
The book was finally published by Frederick Warne in colour in 1902 and was an instant success.
Where did she get the inspiration for her characters?
Her stories were inspired by her surroundings – the Lakeland landscape, the animals in her garden and some of her pets.
The Tale of Two Bad Mice was based on Beatrix’s own pet mice Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca.
Meanwhile, Kep the dog in The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck was Beatrix’s favourite collie sheepdog.
Jemima herself was a real duck who lived Beatrix’s farm.
How many Beatrix Potter books have been sold?
The books are a publishing phenomenon with global sales of over 250 million copies, 45 million of which are The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Over two million Beatrix Potter books are sold every year and Peter Rabbit has appeared in books and products in more than 110 countries throughout the world.
Tell us about her love of the Lakes?
Beatrix loved life in the Lake District.
With the profits of her books, she bought Hill Top Farm in the village of Near Sawrey – a radical step for a young single woman in Victorian times.
Here, she wrote several of her most popular stories.
She became a prominent member of the farming community, winning prizes for breeding Herdwick sheep.
Beatrix was passionate about conservation and, when she died in 1943, left a large estate to the National Trust.
Tell us something about Beatrix Potter that not a lot of people know.
An artist, storyteller, botanist, environmentalist, farmer and impeccable business woman, Beatrix was also a visionary and a trailblazer.
Single-mindedly determined and ambitious, she overcame professional rejection, academic humiliation and personal heartbreak, going on to earn her fortune and a formidable reputation.
How well remembered is she now?
The World of Beatrix Potter attraction has welcomed almost four million visitors over the last 25 years, all keen on exploring the enchanting world that she created in her little books as each of her 23 famous tales are brought to life.
There’s even a chance to meet your favourite characters including Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Jemima Puddle-Duck.
How will her 150th anniversary be marked?
It’s being celebrated on a national level from Peter Rabbit 50p coins in circulation to Beatrix Potter picnics at National Trust properties.
And, of course, by the new Beatrix Potter Musical Adventure: Where Is Peter Rabbit? at our attraction.
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