Helen Beatrix Potter (July 28 1866 - December 22, 1943) was born in South Kensington, London and became an author, illustrator, mycologist, and a conservationist who was best known for her children's books, which featured animal characters such as Peter Rabbit.
Born into a privileged household, Potter was educated by governesses, and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and through holidays in Scotland and the Lake District developed a love of landscape, flora and fauna, all of which she closely observed and painted. As a young woman her parents discouraged intellectual development, but an uncle attempted to introduce her as a student at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, but she was rejected because she was female. Potter was later one of the first to suggest that lichens were a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae. As, at the time, the only way to record microscopic images was by painting them, Potter made numerous drawings of lichens and fungi. As the result of her observations, she was widely respected throughout England as an expert mycologist. She also studied spore germination and life cycles of fungi. Potter's set of detailed watercolors of fungi, numbering some 270 completed by 1901, is in the Armitt Library, Ambleside.
Potter published 23 children's books, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and having become financially independent of her parents, was able to buy a farm in the Lake District, which she extended with other purchases over time. In her forties she married a local solicitor, William Heelis. She became a sheep breeder and farmer while continuing to write and illustrate children's books.
Potter's books continue to sell well throughout the world, in multiple languages. Her stories have been retold in various formats, including a ballet, films and in animation.
Online feature of the Information Sciences Library at the University of Pittsburgh
Archival material relating to Beatrix Potter listed at the UK National Register of Archives
The world's largest collection of Potter's drawings, literary manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and related materials at the Victoria and Albert Museum
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