Simanaitis Says

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THE NAME BEATRIX POTTER is familiar to me because of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902, a favorite children’s book to this day. I encountered her again while browsing through Remarkable Diaries, Journals, Notebooks, and Letters, a most informative collection reviewed here at SimanaitisSays.

Remarkable Diaries, Journals, Notebooks, and Letters, foreward by Professor Kate Williams, contributions by R.G. Grant, Andrew Humpherys, Esther Ripley, and Iain Zaczek, DK Penguin Random House, 2020.

Remarkable Diaries observes, “Potter’s love of animals and her fascination with their behavior shines through in her journal, which features both accounts of creatures she has seen and animal stories she had read.” And, of course, those she created in her charming tales. 

Here in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow are Beatrix Potter tidbits gleaned from her journal as well as through my Internet sleuthing. She was a gentlewoman and considerably more: a writer, artist, conservationist, and natural scientist. 

Youth. Wikipedia observes, “Born into an upper-middle-class household, Potter was educated by governesses and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and spent holidays in Scotland and the Lake District, developing a love of landscape, flora and fauna, all of which she closely observed and painted.“

Helen Beatrix Potter, 1866–1943, English writer, artist, conservationist, and mycologist. Image from

Remarkable Diaries notes,  “Potter became attached to some of these teachers employed by her parents, who encouraged her to write and draw. She became good at both, although her spelling was sometimes erratic….”

Peter Rabbit. In corresponding with Noel Moore, son of a favorite nanny, she introduced her rabbit Peter with tales and illustrations. Remarkable Diaries notes that these letters displayed “the mixture of simple narrative and animal illustrations that became her trademark.”

Above, Peter gets his nails trimmed—front paws only, please. Below, Peter and his pals engage in winter fun.

At first, Potter was unsuccessful in finding a publisher for The Tale of Peter Rabbit, so she arranged a small print run on her own. Frederick Warne, a publisher previously rejecting her work, suggested adding color to her illustrations and published the book in 1902. 

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter, Frederick Warne & Co., 1902. First editions are listed for as much as $20,000.

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll learn of marrying beneath one’s station, animal husbandry, conservation, and mushrooms. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021

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