Most of us will be familiar with the Beatrix Potter books, in particular little Peter Rabbit. I am a great fan of Beatrix Potter's work and very interested in her life. Over the years I have visited the beautiful Lake District in Cumbria where she lived and worked for much of her life and enjoyed it very much. Especially the visits to her house Hill Top. One of my colleagues is shortly going to start a new job working at Hill Top - I am very excited for her! - and that got me thinking about my love of Miss Potter.
Sadly I cannot do a post with beautiful pictures of her home and the wonderful landscape as I haven't visited the area for a few years now and all my pictures are pre digital and photos of photos aren't really that good are they.
When you visit the Lakes there are so many shops selling all sorts of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit paraphernalia, every taste and budget is catered for. I tend to avoid most of those sorts of things, but it is well established that I love books as much as I love crochet so I gravitate towards buying books. There is little to stop my indulging in this love other than space and finance restrictions of course!
My collection started with the 100th Anniversary Editions of Miss Potter's little books. Peter Rabbit was the first in 2002, followed in quick succession by Squirrel Nutkin and I continue to collect them each year as they are published. There are just four more of these books to collect. The last one was published in 2013 and the next one isn't due until 2017. The last will not be published until 2030 and then I will have the full set - that will mean that I will have been collecting them for 28 years at that point. Quite a feat! I hope that I get there.
I was lucky enough to get this "Scrapbook" a few years ago. It is beautiful and really is printed as though it is a scrapbook with envelopes containing copies of letters and copies of other items of ephemera associated with Miss Potter's life.
One of the items that the scrapbook contains is a copy of the first letter that Miss Potter wrote to a young man called Noel and contains a version of the famous story we came to know as Peter Rabbit. Although it is of course only a copy it is wonderful to be able to read this and look at the wonderful pictures.
At the back of the book is a secret door. It contains a copy of the first privately printed edition of Peter Rabbit. I have only opened it very gingerly a few times and not actually "read" it as I don't want to cause any damage.
I have read my little gold books though!
I also have a collection of other biographical books. I haven't actually read this first one - it is part of the to be read pile!
However I have read all of the others that I have. Including this short book which contains a very short diary from one of Miss Potters holidays.
Many of the books written about Beatrix Potter are written by Judy Taylor, including this collection of some of her letters. This was one of the first books that I bought and I have read it several times. It is very interesting to meet someone through their correspondence, although it does feel rather nosey too!
Miss Potter did of course go on to marry later in her life. Her husband was William Heelis, a local solicitor. This book is again short, but very interesting and approaches her life from the point of view of a wife, rather than that of the author that we all know. As Mrs Heelis, she was a famous sheep breeder and landowner and was very interested in the work of the National Trust, leaving much of her money, land and possessions to the Trust on her death.
The last two books are another by Judy Taylor, more of a biography and then of course the guide book to Hill Top, again written by Judy Taylor. Both of these are very interesting reads. They also contain beautiful illustrations as Miss Potter was not just someone who drew pictures for her little books. She was also interested in all sorts of fungi for example and drew beautiful and incredibly detailed pictures of them as she studied them.
That is just a short tour of a few things about Beatrix Potter and my interest in her and her work. There is a lot more to tell and perhaps if I get to go and visit my colleague sometime, I will be able to get more information and pictures to share with you!