A Freedom Won by Peter Rabbit

Beatrix Potter

Storyteller, illustrator, nature lover, and self-taught nature expert, Beatrix Potter went from leading an extremely isolated life to becoming a famous and wealthy writer and illustrator of children’s books. 

If Beatrix Potter’s parents had let her go to university, as she so badly wanted to do, she might be remembered today as one of the world’s great experts on mushrooms. Instead, she became one of the bestselling children’s authors of all time.

Beatrix’s family was wealthy, but very strict with their daughter. She was raised away from other children, with private tutors teaching her at remote country estates in England. Her parents were determined to keep her at home for the rest of her life, to be their housekeeper and care for them in their old age.

But Beatrix had dreams. She loved nature and all plants and animals, particularly rabbits, and kept many kinds of creatures as pets. She was also an excellent artist who could create detailed and realistic paintings and drawings. Above all, Beatrix had a great imagination, and loved to read and tell stories.

Living such an isolated life, Beatrix became a nature expert, particularly with regard to plants and fungi. With her great artistic talents, she could draw amazing illustrations of mushrooms that earned her respect among naturalists.

The young woman thought she might have a future as a botanist, studying plants, but her parents wouldn’t let her pursue a career, and few scientists in the 1800s would have ever taken a woman seriously.

Beatrix felt trapped in her parents’ life until someone pointed a way out. Beatrix had written letters to her last governess’s five-year-old son. In the letters, Beatrix had made up adventure stories about rabbits and other creatures that she loved.

The former governess thought the stories were wonderful, and encouraged Beatrix to turn them into a children’s book. Writing the story and doing her own illustrations, Beatrix Potter created The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Although one publisher after another turned the idea down, Potter would not give up her dream of achievement and independence.

After years of trying, The Tale of Peter Rabbit was finally published. It was a big hit, and so were the books that followed. Characters like Squirrel Nutkin, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and the Flopsy Bunnies became favorites for children across England.

Potter earned enough money to leave home and live her own life. She married, bought a huge farm, and raised as many animals as she liked. Her more than twenty popular children’s books made her wealthy and famous, but it was her hard-earned independence that Beatrix Potter treasured most.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

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