“Beatrix Potter is Mrs William Heelis. She lives in the north of England, her home is amongst the mountains and lakes that she has drawn in her picture books. Her husband is a lawyer. They have no family. Mrs Heelis is in her 60th year. She leads a very busy contented life, living always in the country and managing a large sheep farm on her own land.”
That is what the famous children’s books writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter wrote when she was asked to write a short biography for an American publisher, and it sums up her life in the Lake District nicely, even though the road from well-to-do Victorian-raised girl to Lake District hill farmer was long. But Beatrix was a strong and very determined woman.
In 1905, aged 39 and still living with her parents in London, she buys a farm called Hill Top from earnings from her first little book Peter Rabbit. The farm is located in the north of England, in a small Lake District village called Sawrey. From that old farmhouse, she writes and draws more little books, using the house, the pretty cottage garden she had created, the village and the beautiful Lake District countryside as the backdrop for her stories. Moving back and forth from Sawrey to London, where she still lives with her parents, she tries to make the most of her time in the Lake District. The profits she makes from her bestselling children’s book she uses to buy more land and farms to preserve the Lake District landscape and its traditional farming she loves so much. Eight years after buying Hill Top, her first Lake District farm, she marries local solicitor William Heelis who had been helping her buying farms and land, and moves permanetly to Sawrey, where she makes farming her main priority.
When she dies in 1943, at the age of 77, she owns over 4,000 acres of land,17 farms and cottages, all of which she leaves to the National Trust for the future protection of her beloved Lake District.
I have travelled to the Lake District several times to explore her story, visiting the countryside that was so important to her and telling the story behind this famous author whose stories continue to be bestsellers a lifetime after her death. The story of Beatrix Potter is an extraordinary and deeply inspiring one that remains an inspiration with her legacy still visible in the Lake District today. A story of breathtaking landscapes, sleepy little villages, mountains and lakes, farms and Herwick sheep.
The story is accompanied by location descriptions, tips for walks and exploring Beatrix Potter's Lake District and nice places to stay and eat during a visit. It is a complete and in-depth travel story.