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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Happy Birthday Helen Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943)

Tomorrow - July 28, 2014,  148 years ago Helen Beatrix Potter was born in England and years later she sought to cheer up the five-year-old son of her former governess Annie Moore so she sent an illustrated letter to Noel Moore. That was in 1893. In 1901 she self-published a revised version. It was so successful (despite several publisher's rejections) that Frederick Warne publishers sought to publish it in 1902. That information is rather well-known. What might not be so well known is that Beatrix Potter was one, if not the first, to create merchandise to promote her writing. In 1903 she created a Peter Rabbit doll as a promotional product to accompany the book.

Beatrix Potter made this Peter Rabbit doll in 1903, a year after publishing her first book "The Tale of Peter Rabbit." She registered the doll at the Patent Office (UK).

Many activities and ideas for sharing Beatrix Potter's tales at

And ...
Visit our  Beatrix Potter Room at McBookwords Manor.

Helen Beatrix Potter was schooled privately and spent a lot of time with animals.  Her parents did not view any relationships with men to be favorable.  She did have one major relationship with Norman Warner (of the publishing firm). In 1905, Potter and Warner became unofficially engaged, despite her parents' belief that he was not suited for her, because he was in a commercial business, rather than belonging to the gentry class.  But one month later Warne died of leukemia.  He was just 37.
Eventually Potter used her income from the books and an inheritance from an aunt to buy a farm, and then purchased other farms including Hill Top Farm.  She often spent time at Hill Top Farm and wrote several of her stories there.  As she purchased more land she asked a local solicitor, William Heelis, who helped her protect her investment.  In 1913, Potter and Heelis were married.  In 1914 her father died, and Potter established Lindeth Howe, a 34 bedroom facility where her mother lived until her death in 1931 (at age 93).  Lindeth Howe, is now a destination hotel restaurant in the Lake district.  Her later life was more involved with raising sheep and she became well-know for her restoration of the Herdwick sheep and was established as one of the major Herdwick sheep farmers in the area.  In 1942 she was named President-elect of The Herdwick Sheepbreeders’ Association, the first time a woman had ever been elected to that office.  However, Potter died but died in December of 1943, before taking office.
Much of her property and literary estate was willed to the National Trust.  William Heelis lived another 18 months beyond Potter's death and when he died he gave the remainder of her property and literary holdings to the National Trust.
The copyright of her materials expired in the UK and other countries when the 70 year after death limit was reached.  The stories are now in public domain.

Happy 148th Birthday, Helen Beatrix Potter.  Thank you for all of your stories.

Updated and added information added to a 2013 post

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