Beatrix Potter had a relationship with nature (based largely on prolonged observation) that many modern Pagans could envy.
Beatrix Potter’s artistic pursuits began in her youth. She was a keen witness of the world around her. As an artist, she was largely self-taught, relying on her powers of observation and honed by the dedicated copying of works. She sketched landscapes, flowers, fossils, as well as animals and other subjects from the natural world. Potter worked in a broad spectrum of media including watercolor, pen and ink, and pencil, and experimented in oils and with print-making. Like her father, she was an early practitioner of the art of photography. Beatrix Potter’s work is characterized by delicacy and great attention to detail.
At the age of 21 Potter began a scientific study of fungus. Charles McIntosh, the ‘Perthshire Naturalist,’ guided her in her work. After more than 13 years, she developed a theory on the germination of spores which, though rejected by the scientific establishment of the day, is today recognized as being ahead of its time.
In 1902, at the age of 36, Beatrix Potter published her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She produced 28 books in her lifetime, including the 23 little Tales, which are all still in print today. These books have sold 150 million copies and have been translated into more than 35 languages.
By the time she had reached her 40th birthday, Beatrix Potter had acquired Hill Top, her first farm in England’s Lake District. This became a quiet refuge for her work. Over the remaining years of her life she became a respected local farmer, landowner, and sheep breeder. She keenly promoted the traditional farming methods and ways of life, which she knew to be essential to the preservation of the beautiful, wild environment of the Lakes.
Her works for children go in and out of fashion, sometimes considered too quaint, twee, anthropomorphic. But she does a good job of introducing children to the idea of a natural world beyond their windows and to the concept that animals, too, have wants, desires, motivations.
Did you read her? As a child? As a grown-up to your own children?