I happened on a gem of a movie the other night. Miss Potter is the life story of Beatrix Potter, one of the most famous authors of children’s books. Her Tale of Peter Rabbit and many other animal stories, illustrated with her own drawings, are among the most beloved children’s books to generations of readers including myself. Though I have loved her books forever, I did not know the details of her life story. In addition to her work as an author and artist, she was a conservationist who left an amazing legacy. Watching this movie is a window into the experience of a remarkable woman.
I find inspiration in role models and it was fascinating to find out that she was a pioneer in so many ways. While I hardly count myself in the company of Beatrix Potter, her search for a publisher and involvement in the details of the publishing process which included going through proof after proof to be sure that the colors were right, definitely struck a chord for me. Another interesting thing was that rather than focusing on the business side of the book sales, she stayed with the creative side, writing and illustrating more stories about the little animals she observed like Peter, Jemima Puddle Duck, Mr. Jeremy Fisher and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, to mention a few. It was only later in her life when she wanted to move out of her parents’ home that she discovered that she had become financially independent, rare for a single woman in that time. In today’s competitive economic environment, I can hardly imagine not having to think about the business side of publishing.
Of all the things I learned about Beatrix Potter, one was by far the most important to me. She not only observed and created stories about her “little friends” the animals. She had conversations with them and they talked back! I have done that for sometime with the animal friends in my stories and it seemed that I was sharing a very special secret with Beatrix Potter over the reaches of time.