Today in history... Beatrix Potter dies at the age of 77

That she spent most of her childhood isolated from other children makes Beatrix Potter's legacy as one of the most important children's writers of all time even more remarkable.

Later, when she came of age, Potter's parents appointed her as the family housekeeper and discouraged any further intellectual development.

Nevertheless, with her pet newts, ferrets, two rabbits and even a bat for inspiration - and with the help of a coded secret diary, which she kept between the ages of 15-30 - Potter's imagination didn't stagnate.

First edition warne Peter Rabbit Beatrix Potter
First edition of Peter Rabbit

On the contrary, Potter not only developed an interest in fiction, but also an extensive knowledge of mycology. She was in her thirties by the time The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published. 

In 1897, her uncle, Henry Enfield Roscoe, presented Potter's paper On the Germination of Spores of Agaricineae to the Linnean Society. (Potter herself could not attend the meetings because she was female.)

She was one of the first to suggest that lichens were a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae, illustrated by her own accomplished watercolours.

Potter would eventually become highly respected in the field of mycology (biology of fungi), delivering lectures.

Fierce Bad Rabbit
Potter's sketch, entitled Fierce Bad Rabbit

By the time of her death in 1943, Beatrix Potter had published twenty-three books. She also received a posthumous apology from the Linnean Society for their early treatment of her.

This month, a copy of Beatrix Potter's most famous story, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, sold at a Profiles in History auction for $94,400.

And, in November, a selection of Potter's early sketches - including for some of her best loved works: Jeremy Fisher, Fierce Bad Rabbit and Samuel Whiskers - sold for £30,000 at Bloomsbury auctions.


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