Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Choose Beatrix Potter Books, Toys and Home Accessories

Who Was Beatrix Potter?

Beatrix Potter is the English author of beautifully illustrated children’s books featuring animals and birds as the main characters. Probably her most famous character is the cute and cuddly Peter Rabbit, but she also created many other memorable characters such as Jemima Puddleduck, Jeremy Fisher, Tom Kitten and the Flopsy Bunnies. Beatrix Potter was born in 1866 into a wealthy Victorian family, and had an isolated childhood where she was taught at home by governesses. The family would take their holidays in Scotland or the Lake District in the north of England, and this is where the young Beatrix first started showing an interest in the natural world and she started keeping lots of small animals and painting the landscapes around her.  As she grew up Beatrix Potter longed to be able to lead an independent life and have her own career, but this was not regarded as a suitable aspiration for a young lady in the Victorian era.  Beatrix Potter had a great interest in fungi and gained a lot of knowledge due to her research and observations, but could not pursue higher education in mycology because she was a woman. Eventually because of her hard work and dedication she came to be regarded as a respected mycologist in England and she also painted many detailed watercolours of fungi.

The Tales of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter’s literary career began in 1893 when she was 27, when she wrote ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ in the form of a picture story for a small boy who had been ill for some months called Noel Moore.  She reclaimed the letter in 1901 and after further developing the story, Beatrix Potter sent it off to six publishers under the title ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Mr McGregor’s Garden’. Much to her disappointment her book was rejected, because there were no colour illustrations. After amending the title, she privately published 250 copies of her book in time for Christmas, which sold so rapidly that she had to publish another 200 copies a fortnight later.  In 1902 her book was accepted by the publisher Frederick Warne & Co, as the colour illustrations were ready, and 28,000 copies were sold by the end of the year and The Tale of Peter Rabbit has never been out of print since that time. Peter Rabbit was followed by The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin in 1903 and then 21 other small format children’s tales all based on the adventures of charming animal characters dressed as humans. The success of The Tale of Peter Rabbit gave Beatrix Potter the financial independence that she craved, and in 1905 she secretly became engaged to her publisher Norman Warne. Her parents, however, were very much against this union because of what they regarded as his lowly profession, which caused a huge rift between Beatrix and her parents.  Unfortunately, Norman Warne died of pernicious anaemia shortly afterwards and Beatrix Potter went on to purchase Hill Top Farm in the Lake District in July of 1905. Beatrix began to spend a lot of time at the farm, as she loved the Lake District landscapes, and married a local solicitor called William Heelis who worked on some of her land purchases at the age of 47 in 1913. Beatrix Potter gave up working on her tales and illustrations around 1920 as her eyesight began to fail, and then concentrated on sheep farming and breeding in her later years. She died in December 1943 and left much of her property to the National Trust, with her manuscripts and original illustrations also passing to the National Trust on the death of her husband.

Beatrix Potter - Benjamin Bunny

Beatrix Potter Books

For a lot of us the enchanting animal tales of Beatrix Potter are a treasured memory of our childhood. I certainly had a collection of these beautifully illustrated small format children’s books on my book shelf that were very well thumbed and several had torn covers! Luckily all of Beatrix Potter’s books are still in print, so they can still be loved and enjoyed by the children of today. Beatrix Potter’s children’s books make great gifts, and if you are buying a special birthday or Christmas gift the hardcover ‘Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales’ or a presentation box of all her tales could be just what you are looking for.  Beatrix Potter’s books are available in most good bookshops, but one of the very best places to look for them is online.  Amazon has a great range of Beatrix Potter books, so why not go online and make your choice today? You can also collect each of these charming animal tales individually, so why not start off with ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ and then buy the books one by one for your children or grandchildren?

Beatrix Potter Toys

As the animal characters in Beatrix Potter’s books are all so cute, it is not perhaps surprising that you can also buy some adorable soft toys representing these characters.  There are plush Peter Rabbit toys, Jemima Puddleduck toys dressed in her signature blue bonnet and pink shawl, cuddly Mrs Rabbits and even Jeremy Fisher toys.  You can also buy other Beatrix Potter nursery toys such as bunny mural wall stickers, board games and puzzles. Beatrix Potter character stuffed toys make great new born baby gifts, so pick out your favourite Peter Rabbit plush toy to take to that baby shower today! If you are looking for a great christening present, why not choose a Wedgwood Peter Rabbit china set containing a mug, plate and bowl all decorated with cute Peter Rabbit illustrations and quotes from the story?

Beatrix Potter Home Accessories

Just because you have grown up, it does not mean that you have to give up your Beatrix Potter characters.  There are some great art print posters available to buy online of the original illustrations from the books. And if you love collecting figurines, then you can buy amazing Beatrix Potter china figurines of all your favourite animals, including Mrs Tittlemouse, Tom Kitten, and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. Or cute china individual letters with Beatrix Potter characters on them?  There are Peter Rabbit china photo frames, water globes and Beatrix Potter character cross-stitch kits, so you can find the perfect Beatrix Potter gift for all occasions.
So you really can bring the wonderful world of Beatrix Potter into your nursery or your home.  Just shop online at Amazon today and choose that perfect gift.

Benjamin Bunny Image Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

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