I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but it is terribly muggy here. I want to like summer, I do, but I hate heat. I dream about a warm summer that feels more like spring, full of beautiful flowers and plants and trees that somehow do not make me sneeze. I want to live in a Beatrix Potter book.
I have a couple of books to show you today. The first is from the library, and I'll just give you a little peek. It's called At Home With Beatrix Potter, and it's a pictorial tour of Potter's Hill Top Farm, which she bought it 1905.
|At Home With Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit by Susan Denyer. |
Frances Lincoln Publishers, 2009.
The second book I want to show off is the one I'm really excited about. I ordered it as a summer treat to myself, as I haven't bought a book to keep in a little while. It's Beatrix Potter: A Journal, one of those enchanting interactive books like the one I featured here, or the Dragonology or Egyptology books.
|Beatrix Potter: A Journal, "a work of fiction based on Beatrix Potter's journal and letters."|
Frederick Warne & Co, a division of Penguin Books, 2006.
The book is full of photographs, illustrations, and very cool things to explore, such as the little photo album you see in the above picture. Here it is close up:
It follows her early life, such as her bouts with illness, the animals in her life, holidays with the family. We glimpse her early career as the illustrator of Christmas cards.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit came about via a letter she wrote to the ailing child of her former governess. There is an envelope, bearing a reproduction of that letter.
Potter's visits to the Lake District and purchase of Hill Top farm are recorded, with an attached map.
She could not find a publisher for Peter Rabbit, which she insisted be printed in a small format. She published the book herself, independently, in black and white. The book did surprisingly well, and friends urged her to try once more to find a real publisher. Frederick Warne was now interested, and willing to put the book out in her preferred "little" format, but they wanted color. Norman Warne, the youngest partner in the company, worked with Beatrix in making sure the new three-color printing process captured the colors to her satisfaction.
The book was a major success, and two more books followed the very next year, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and my favorite Potter book, The Tailor of Gloucester.
At the age of 39, Beatrix Potter was considered an "old maid," but she fell in love and accepted the proposal of Norman Warne. Her parents did not approve, and the couple agreed to keep the engagement a secret for six months, as her parents hoped she would change her mind. She proceeded on holiday with her parents, only to receive word that Warne was terribly ill. He died of a sudden, rapid-killing case of leukemia before she could see him.
The "journal" concludes with Beatrix Potter explaining how she began to spend more time at her Lake District farm, which leads to more time spent in the company of her attorney, William Heelis. Finally, she marries Heelis, and most of her time is now spent managing her vast country properties.
There is one final treat at the back of the book. I almost missed this!
I pulled the little gold ribbon tab, and out popped a little facsimile edition of the independently-published, black and white edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit!
I must confess, I've been on a bit of a Beatrix Potter kick the last few days. Saturday night, the family snuggled in with popcorn and watched the movie Miss Potter on Amazon Prime.
It isn't perfect, but it's sweet and charming, and led to me getting out the old Beatrix Potter treasury I've had since my grade school years. Big Sis ripped the dust jacket into three pieces when she was little, and I admit, I've had the book put up out of reach ever since.
I also checked out a hefty biography called Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature, which I hope to get to soon, although my stack of library books is starting to totter steeply.
In gathering links for this post, I found a treasure trove of Beatrix Potter sites to explore.
- The Beatrix Potter Society, devoted to the curatorship of official Beatrix Potter material.
- Beatrix Potter's Lake District, a travel website related to the movie, Miss Potter.
- Beatrix Potter's Patch, the official blog of the Hill Top House and the Beatrix Potter Gallery National Trust Team.
- Peter Rabbit.Com, a gorgeous site devoted to Beatrix Potter's beloved books and characters.
- The World of Beatrix Potter, the website for the attraction of the same name, a tourist destination I would love love LOVE to visit someday.