Beatrix Potter – Conservationist Storyteller

Day 229 of Colourisation Project – December 29

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Seventy-one years ago on this day, 22 December in 1943, Helen Beatrix Potter, one of the world’s best-selling and best-loved children’s authors passed away. She also beautifully illustrated her own books. One of the most beloved children’s book of all time would be her most celebrated book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, published in 1902.

Beatrix Potter Bef & Aft

Photographer Unknown – Beatrix Potter with her pet mouse, Xarifa 1885 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Known to children all over the globe, Peter Rabbit was born in an illustrated letter Potter wrote in 1893 to Noel, the son of her former governess, Annie. Seven years later, Potter borrowed back the letter and copied the illustrations to produce a draft version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Part of the popularity of Potter’s books can be attributed to the lively quality of her illustrations.

Potter had a sharp business sense. In 1903, she patented a Peter Rabbit doll and a Peter Rabbit board game, which kicked off a merchandising enterprise which was to make Potter very wealthy through the additional income.

In all she wrote and illustrated over 30 books that have been translated into more than 35 languages and have sold well over 100 million copies. Some of her better known titles include:

  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)
  • The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (1903)
  • The Tailor of Gloucester (1903)
  • The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904)
  • The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904)
  • The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (1905)
  • The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan (1905)
  • The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher (1906)
  • The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit (1906)

Potter, a natural scientist and active supporter of land conservation celebrated the British landscape and country life in her children’s books.

London born Beatrix Potter died of pneumonia and heart disease on this day, 22 December in 1943 at her Lancashire home.  She was 77 years old. Credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park, Potter in one of the biggest legacies ever made, bequeathed fifteen farms and over 4,000 acres to the National Trust.

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NOTE: I’ve not been able to confirm the photographer of today’s photo but it is very likely taken by Potter’s father, an amateur photographer who was elected to the Photographic Society of London in 1869 and who contributed to many photographic exhibitions. A prolific photographer, his favourite subject of course was his daughter, Beatrix.

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“I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense.”         Beatrix Potter, The Complete Tales

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This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Literature, Photography, Women, Women in Literature, Women writers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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