Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The World of Beatrix Potter..

Home of Beatrix Potter: Hill Top Farm

The life of Beatrix Potter is a fascinating story in itself, one that has a lot to offer children particularly as an insight into the constraints and expectations of women in the Victorian Era.
Ahead of her time she defied convention to become not only one of the great storytellers and artists of her age but also a landowner, farmer and conservationist

Home of Beatrix Potter: Yew Tree Farm

"…as nearly perfect a little place as I ever lived in, and such nice old-fashioned people in the village." -Beatrix Potter

(Helen) Beatrix Potter (1866-1943)

Helen Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) was an English author, illustrator, mycologist and conservationist who was best known for her many best-selling children's books that featured animal characters, such as Peter Rabbit.

Born into a privileged household, Potter was educated by governesses and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and, through holidays spent in Scotland and the Lake District, developed a love of landscape, flora and fauna, all of which she closely observed and painted. As a young woman her parents discouraged her intellectual development, but her study and paintings of fungi led her to be widely respected in the field of mycology.

In her thirties Potter published the highly successful children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and became secretly engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne, causing a breach with her parents, who disapproved of his social status. Warne died before the wedding could take place.

In 1905 she bought Hill Top, a little farm in Sawrey, and for the next 8 years she busied herself writing more books, and visiting her farm. In 1909 she bought another farm opposite Hill Top, Castle Farm, which became her main Lakeland base. Seven of her books are based in or around Hill Top. Tom Kitten and Samuel Whiskers lived there. Hill Top is still as it was then, and is now the most visited literary shrine in the Lake District.

Potter eventually published 23 children's books and, having become financially independent of her parents, was able to buy a farm in the Lake District, which she extended with other purchases over time. In her forties she married a local solicitor, William Heelis. She became a sheep breeder and farmer while continuing to write and illustrate children's books.

Potter died in 1943, and left almost all of her property to her husband who, after his death in 1945, left it to The National Trust in order to preserve the beauty of the Lake District as she had known it, protecting it from developers.

Potter's books continue to sell well throughout the world, in multiple languages. Her stories have been retold in various formats, including a ballet, films and in animation.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, 1904

The Tale of Tom Kitten, 1907

The Tale of Pigling Bland, 1913

"'Stories don't always end where their authors intended. But there is joy in following them, wherever they take us." ~Beatrix Potter

In 1929, when Beatrix Potter was 64 years old, the Monk Coniston estate came up for sale. The estate consisted of 2500 acres of land around the head of Coniston Water. It consisted of the well-known beauty spot Tarn Hows, seven farms including Yew Tree, Boon Crag, High Arnside, High Tilberthwaite and High Yewdale, as well as cottages, quarries and open fell land. She sold the half containing Tarn Hows to the National Trust, and bequeathed the rest of the estate to the
Trust in her will.
Yew Tree Farm has been much photographed, drawn, and filmed. Its most picturesque feature is the spinning gallery along the front of the old barn. It was used for drying rather than spinning the wool of the Herdwick sheep. Such galleries were not uncommon until the early 1900's, but since then have become something of a rarity.

Yew Tree Farmhouse is partly of 17th Century date or earlier, with a new end added in 1743. This date, and the intials of the then owner, George Walker, are cut in the ironwork of the front door. The farm gets its name from the yew tree, some 700 years old when it blew down in 1896.

When she died in 1943, Beatrix Potter left 4000 acres of land to The National Trust,
including 15 farms, cottages and many local areas of beauty including Tarn Hows. Her gift back to the land she loved was to help preserve it for future generations.

Info: Wikipedia, Beatrix Potter Society,


Anonymous said...

After seeing the movie about her life (it seemed she was a lonly person most of her life), I wanted to see where she lived - (if they filmed it on location?) -it's quite beautiful there - thank you for sharing!

Carol Murdock said...

I bought the Dvd Miss Potter and love it!I've watch it several times.

DeniseinVA said...

This is a wonderful post, just loved it. Thank you very much. I think I am going to have to get that movie now.

Jill of All Trades said...

That is so very interesting. I loved her books as a child.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Thanks Jo for the history lesson... I've always loved Beatrix Potter--but never knew much about her. Very interesting!!!

Catherine said...

You seem to have a deep love for the British countryside, judging from the pictures in this post. Do you ever visit the Lake District?

Anonymous said...

I knew nothing of her history and can't wait to read more. Thanks, Josephine.

The Prodigal Tourist said...

Only discovered Beatrix Potter after I had a daughter, so it's all quite new to me. Saw the movie recently, it was really good-she had a fascinating live, didn't she. Love the photos! And speaking of photos, is one of the houses on the right yours? The lovely snow scene, mayhaps?

A Brit in Tennessee said...

In answer to your question...yes, I've visited the Lake District many times, but as a young girl. I didn't know anything about Beatrix Potter at the time, unfortunately:(

Winifred said...

That's a lovely post. I've visited the Lakes a lot but I've not been to that part. We used to go often when our children were young but now my husband is a golfer at weekends so....

I love the Peter Rabbit stories. I've been doing some cross stitch pictures for my granddaughter's bedroom but it's taking me yonks! Need to get a move on or she'll be into Barbie or some other rubbish.

Winifred said...

Forgot to say that it's wonderful the land and property was left to the National Trust to protect it from today's horrific greed and commercialism.

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

I was brought up the tales of Beatrix Potter and I, in turn, read them to my girls from an early age and they, in turn, are saving my collection to read to their children one day...
Beautiful post on a beautiful blog - thanks for sharing :)

Brittney said...

Wonderful post and beautiful pictures!