Famous Cumbrians: Beatrix Potter (1866-1943)

Beatrix Potter was in many ways the ultimate Cumbrian, and yet she was born in London. Unmarried until her 40s, Beatrix struggled initially to make an independent living. She finally self-published 250 copies of ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ in 1901; these were noticed by the publisher, Frederick Warne, and by the end of the following year, they had printed no less than 28,000 copies. Beatrix went on to write another 22 books, and used the proceeds to buy Hill Top Farm, near Hawkshead.

Her legacy to the Lake District is her interest in conservation and traditional farming; she was a breeder of native Lakes Herdwick sheep, and bought many acres of farmland. On her death in 1943, she bequeathed 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust. If you visit the Lake District, the odds are that you’ll be parking in car parks on ‘her’ land, or walking in her favourite spots.

©Diane McIlmoyle 03.11.10

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