On what would have been Beatrix Potter’s 150th Birthday
Today would have been beloved children’s author, Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday, but did you know she had and still has a huge effect on a large area of the Lake District National Park?
We all remember her books from our childhood, the likes of Peter Rabbit, Tom Kitten and company still seem as fresh today as they ever did with generation after generation taking in the stories and stunning artwork.
Beatrix Potter, from London only ended up holidaying in the Lake District by chance that the Potter’s usual holiday residence in Scotland was unavailable one year. At 16 Beatrix visited the Lake District for the first time, by accounts she fell in love with her surroundings during their holiday. A great impression was made on her by her parents friend Hardwicke Rawnsley, who was a vicar at a local church with ideas to preserve the natural beauty of the area. Hardwicke would later become one of the founding members of the National Trust.
Beatrix had many pets and a fascination with animals, she spent her time making sketches of the pets, and the animals in the Lake District. This hobby of sketches was encouraged by Rawnsley, and Beatrix began to create greeting cards for her friends and later what would become her first book; The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which would be released in 1902.
The Lake District would have a huge effect on Beatrix’s book writing in both sketch and story. Squirrel Nutkin features landscapes from Derwentwater and Catbells, while Benjamin Bunny has scenes of Fawe Park. The Lake District wasn’t just having an effect on the animals in her books, and with income coming in from her work over the next few years Beatrix would purchase a selection of farms and land in the area to further inspire her characters.
Her visits became more frequent, and she even became an expert in breeding Herdwick Sheep and was recognised as a key part in saving the breed, winning prizes for her flock.
Upon her death in 1943, she left 14 farms and 4000 acres of land to the National Trust along with her herds of sheep, which meant that the trust would look after it for years to come, so that others could enjoy what she had enjoyed through her life. Today you can still visit the areas in her books along with her home and a wonderful Beatrix Potter tour, gallery and much more in her favourite areas of the National Park. There’s even a Beatrix Potter trail, ideal for a family day out to meet the characters from her famous books.
Planning a visit to the Lake District? Check out our list of 50 things to do in the Lake District.