The Inspiration of Beatrix Potter in the 21st Century

Here at Chic Petit, we adore the timeless charm of little Peter Rabbit and that’s why stock a wide range of beautiful items in our nursery collection.

But where did it all start for the adventurous rabbit and his friends?

"My dear Noel," the letter read, "I don't know what to write you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter." The illustrated letter was written to the 5 year old poorly son of Beatrix’s much-loved Governess, Annie Moore. It went on to reveal how this naughty bunny called Peter disobeyed his mother, got into all sorts of trouble, managed to escape, and got a good scolding when he finally returned home.

Nine years after she wrote this letter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. It is still a firm favourite today as it was back in 1901 and is now published worldwide in more than 20 languages. So, who was Beatrix Potter?

Born Helen Beatrix Potter, on 28 July 1866 to Rupert and Helen Potter in London, six years later her younger brother Walter arrived. They both loved to paint and draw and had a passion for their many pets which included rabbits, mice, frogs, lizards, snakes and a bat.

Unlike Walter, Beatrix never went to school but she was naturally clever and talented and her parents employed an art teacher so she could develop her artistic talents further. She also had a number of governesses, her favourite being Annie Moore, and they remained close throughout her life.

Beatrix’s earliest models for her drawings were her pet rabbits; Benjamin Bouncer, who was rather partial to buttered toast and Peter Piper, a lively young bunny with a talent for performing tricks who accompanied Beatrix everywhere she went. When Beatrix was sixteen, her family holidayed at Wray Castle, overlooking Lake Windermere and this is where Beatrix’s love of the Lake District began.

A determined and strong lady of 36 years, Beatrix’s earliest story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit was self-published – she had 250 copies printed for family and friends, following rejection from many publishers. The book’s instant success encouraged Frederick Warne & Co., who had previously turned it down, to reconsider on the basis that she re-illustrated it in colour. In 1902, it became a bestseller and was closely followed by The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester with Frederick Warne, and the rest of her adorable tales.

Beatrix was a fierce protector of nature and a staunch supporter of the National Trust; she preserved her buildings and farms in keeping with the rural culture of the area, and she saved many farms from developers. She bought 15 farms in her lifetime and was at her happiest her happiest with her farm animals. She even won prizes for her sheep at local shows and was the first elected female President of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association in 1943.

Beatrix died shortly after in 1943 at 77, leaving her 15 farms and four thousand acres of land to the National Trust. Her final wishes were that her home, Hill Top Farm, the inspirational setting for many of her tales, was kept exactly as it had been when she lived in it; it is open to thousands of visitors every year. Today, four of her books are sold every minute – that is more than two million books per year. Her charming tales have been passed down and enjoyed by generations gone and many more

to come. Her books, illustrations, her Herdwick sheep and her formidable spirit are all part of her lasting, inspirational legacy.

If you’d like to add a little of Beatrix Potter’s magic to your nursery for your little one, or as a gift for a loved one, our roomy Peter Rabbit Changing Bag will hold all baby essentials and is easily attachable to your pram or buggy; perfect for exploring new places and making your own adventures. You won’t need to worry about spills as this wipe-down PVC, cotton material is so easy to clean with a damp cloth or anti-bacterial wipes. This beautiful bag has been created with gentle pastel splashes of colour on a cool grey background, blending wonderfully with other colour schemes, from the ‘Come Rain or Shine’ collection.

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