As a young girl, I constantly had my head in a book. With two older sisters who were allowed to go out and play, it was a way to keep myself entertained. I quickly fell in love with the mode of escapism. So much so, that as I grew older, I often still opted for a familiar paperback, rather than playing outside. One book that I still have is a collection of Beatrix Potter stories. As a child, her stories of animals getting into mischief entertained me for hours. Now, as an adult, I still have an unwavering belief in the power of the imagination.
It is only in the past few years that I have discovered that Potter was much more than an illustrator and author. In 1901 Potter self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit after the story was rejected by publishers several times. The book’s success prompted Frederick Warne & Co., who had been among those to reject it, to offer to republish the book in full colour. The popularity of the book motivated Potter to continue with her creations and onto other ventures. Merchandising options became a large priority, with Potter herself overseeing every decision. In fact, Peter Rabbit became the first licensed literary character, so that Potter had full control. To ensure the survival of her beloved characters, Potter continued to write and promote her stories. Later in life, Potter used the money from her books to buy Hill Top Farm and dedicated herself to the protection of the countryside. Upon her death, in 1943, Potter left fifteen farms and over four thousand acres to The National Trust. Her house and land can still be enjoyed today thanks to her preservation efforts.
As a young girl I was unaware of the details of Beatrix Potter’s life, yet her stories played an instrumental role in my childhood. Over the years the information I have collected only deepens my respect for her and serves to inspire me further. It is amazing to see how a heroine of my girlhood, continues to be one of my heroines as an adult.
Girl Museum Inc.