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Children's Author Beatrix Potter and the English Lake District

Posted by barnes on December 2, 2013 at 4:05 PM

The early-20th century author of children's stories, Beatrix Potter, while born and raised in London had a deep love of the Lake District. In many of her childhood summer months her father used to rent a house close to Windermere in the north of Lancashire. This setting of the Lake District landscape did much to form the mind of the creator of what would eventually become the world-renowned Beatrix Potter characters.


Beatrix's family, tainted by the extremely widespread nineteenth century snobbishness of recently gained wealth, didn't value her work as a drawer of animal sketches and author of children's stories. (In reality, of course, her artistic work was far more broadly based than that; she was also among other things a talented landscape and natural history artist). Once she accumulated adequate assets from her publications to make herself independent she acquired Hill Top Farm, at Sawrey among the hills of northern Lancashire (now in Cumbria) between Coniston Water and Windermere, two of the three largest of the English Lakes.  


Later in life she obtained a great deal more land, and was one of the leading initiators of the National Trust, a body that to this day has an objective to conserve the Lake District landscape.  On her death much of her land was left to the Trust. Every year thousands of visitors come to Hill Top to look around her old home, now looked after by the National Trust that she helped to launch. Her books are still treasured by children and former-children alike. (Beatrix Potter book set)



Down the years there have been numerous publications about her, including some that focus on specific areas of her life like her art. As may be anticipated her enthusiasm for the Lake District is frequently underlined. Most likely there are more books about her than books authored by her. The passion of this London-born woman for the mountains and valleys of Lakeland is a major topic in many of them. Some are listed here.


Many  Lake District holidays will include trips to one or more of the Beatrix Potter attractions. Hill Top has already been mentioned. Wray Castle is also run by the National Trust, while at Hawkshead they have opened what were previously the rooms of her husband's law practice as the 'Beatrix Potter Gallery'. Then in Bowness there is the 'Beatrix Potter Attraction', an excellent commercial tourism venture. No matter whether you have children with you or not a visit to one or more of these will provide an enjoyable afternoon.

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