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Beatrix Potter

July 28, 1866 - December 22, 1943


Helen Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) was an English writer and illustrator of children’s books. Born in South Kensington, London, to an upper-class family, governesses educated Potter at home, where she displayed a talent for drawing and painting from a young age. Though she grew up in London, Potter was heavily inspired by the nature she experienced on her family holidays to the countryside. She sold a few works for book illustrations and greeting cards in the 1890s but spent most of her time studying natural history, becoming a skilled scientific illustrator and watercolor artist. In 1902, after privately publishing it the year before, her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was published by Frederick Warne and Co. and became a bestseller once it hit the shelves. Experiencing great commercial success and high demand, Potter began writing and illustrating small books for children full-time in her 30s. Much of Potter’s work was inspired by her love for animals, nature, and her experience on the farm she had purchased with royalties from her books. Passionate about conservation, she spent the end of her life extending her land property in order to preserve the landscape of the Lake District, which she bequeathed to the National Trust. Due to failing eyesight and work on the farm, Potter’s work on new books slowed by the 1920s, as she wasn’t able to create new illustrations and had to rework existing drawings. After writing and illustrating 28 beloved books in her career, her last major work was published in 1930, 13 years before her death. Beatrix Potter is included in our celebration of Great Women Artists found here.

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