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Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature

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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  770 ratings  ·  127 reviews
In this remarkable biography, Linda Lear offers a new look at the extraordinary woman who gave us some of the most beloved children’s books of all time. Potter found freedom from her conventional Victorian upbringing in the countryside. Nature inspired her imagination as an artist and scientific illustrator, but The Tale of Peter Rabbit brought her fame, financial success, ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,032)
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Susan Branch
Getting to know Beatrix Potter has been a slow unfolding for me and started in a funny place. In my early twenties I worked in a record store that was next to a gift shop. That gift shop is where I fell in love with Beatrix Potter's little character figurines made by F. Warne & Co. Ltd. in Beswick, England in the 40's and 50's: Jemima Puddle-Duck, Foxy Whiskered Gentleman, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle to name a few. I would get my paycheck at the record store where I worked behind the counter and run n ...more
Susan Albert
Mar 07, 2008 Susan Albert rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: admirers of Beatrix Potter, environmentalists/preservationists, Anglophiles
If you have fond memories of the Tale of Peter Rabbit from your childhood; or if you have an interest in women who bravely challenged a social destiny that seemed foregone and inevitable; or if you are interested in naturalism and the history of preservation, you will enjoy and learn from Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature, by environmental historian Linda Lear.

Beatrix Potter was born in London in 1866 to wealthy Victorian parents. From early childhood, she was passionately interested in the natu
...more
Deborah
Linda Lear's biography of Helen Beatrix Potter reveals the life of a woman whose passions, pursuits, and legacies extend far beyond the tidy realm of her fame as an author and illustrator of children's books. Potter was also a talented landscape painter and an award-winning sheep breeder. She was an accomplished amateur mycologist; she is thought to be the first person to successfully reproduce fungi from spores. Her scientific drawings of fungi and insects are so accurate, they're still referen ...more
Louise Leetch
Linda Lear's story about Beatrix Potter opens up a world so very far beyond the image of a Victorian author dabbling in children's books. Ms Potter was a self-taught naturalist who also happened to write stories and poetry for children. If you stop and really look at her illustrations, you understand how intimately she knew each animal she drew.

The first part of the book heavily concentrates on Beatrix's studies of fungi and her struggle to have her research accepted by the Natural History Muse
...more
Carl Rollyson
What did children do before Disney? They read Beatrix Potter. They still do. Her Peter Rabbit, who first appeared in 1902, still has a world audience, and royalties from her other books and "licensing kingdom" (as Linda Lear's publisher puts it) earn something like $500 million a year. The new film about Potter's life, starring Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, will make that gross even more.

Unlike Disney's Mickey Mouse & Co., Potter's Peter & Co. were set in "a real place and in real,
...more
Lorna
I am currently immersed in the life of Beatrix Potter, prominant Victorian children's author.
Linda Lear has written a very concise and detailed biography. If you're anything like me and you enjoy reading about writers then you'll love this book.
From what I can gather so far Beatrix was primarily an artist rather than a writer. Her interest in life-like animal sketches was where the inspiration for her stories came from, the plots often springing from a sketch already in existance rather than ill
...more
Marcia
Feb 20, 2007 Marcia is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any one who loves the little books produced by Beatrix Potter
I am still reading this book but have learned how industrious B. Potter was. She perserved with her painting and sketching, always trying to make her pictures true to nature. She was an entrepreneurial business woman, something I did not suspect from reading her books. It turns out, she was the best promoter of her books and all the other products which grew from the success of her writings.
Tamhack
I have always enjoyed the stories and illustrations of Beatrix Potter. Linda Lear did an excellent job of sharing with us the life of Beatrix Potter. I am sure that if Beatrix Potter had lived in any other time she may have gone on to become a great naturalist. She had a great love of nature from her earlier childhood and she had a knack for bringing out and putting down on paper the details of what she was looking at.

She had a deep love of the land and all that it held.

Beatrix Potter's mother,
...more
Joy
Linda Lear provides an incredibly in-depth biography of a truly amazing woman. Although Lear's book is a whopping 584 pages, she doesn't lose her readers' interest in the one-of-a-kind, rather eccentric, brilliant Beatrix Potter Heelis.

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature outlines the life of a woman whose interests and passions were diverse. She drew and studied fungi for a number of years, wrote and illustrated a number of children's books, bought thousands of acres of land in an effort to preserv
...more
Lucinda
Beatrix Potter is not just a great writer of children's books but also a model of inspiration and strength of character that make her a litertary icon. In a time of social status, of elegance & sophistication Beatrix looked beyond the expected and hierachy with the social classes & society, to make what she wanted of her life; even if it was juxaposing the norm. Her parents were social climbers within the victorian society who continuosly aimed for new heights and when there daughter cho ...more
Erica
I admire Beatrix Potter more now than ever. There was so much more to her than Peter Rabbit and biographer Linda Lear does a marvelous job of revealing Beatrix through all stages of her life. Beatrix had an avid love of nature from her earliest days and became an expert on fungi as a young woman. Her drawings of mushrooms and other plant life are still used in scientific texts today and are regarded as some of the most detailed drawings of these subjects that have ever been made. She did a prodi ...more
Stacy
I am not quite sure why I wanted to read a book about Beatrix Potter. It might be because I watched, "Miss Potter" and became interested in learning more about this children's author.

While many may know Beatrix Potter for her books, it was nature and farming that were her true passions in life. She should be first and foremost thought of an environmentalist. She spent a good portion engaged in nature and capturing England's natural countryside. She spent a good part of her life (and money) pres
...more
Grace
The most in-depth, detailed biography I've ever read, to be sure. Although this book was heavy and slow at times, I appreciated the scope of the research that the author went to for this book. It not only covered the entire life of Beatrix Potter, but also the history of her family, and included many details of friends, family, and other people who were involved in her life.
Because Beatrix was such a prolific writer, not just of books, but of letters and journal entries, this book was filled wi
...more
Roberta
I have a new appreciation from reading this book of the oppression of women in Victorian society. Beatrix was an amateur naturalist, but it seems to me they were all amateurs in the 1800's. She wasn't allowed to attend the meeting of the Linnea Society when her paper was read on how mushrooms propagate. Honestly. And there was a statement near the end of the book about Beatrix's father not even realizing that a woman would desire a life of her own outside the home. He thought she was artisticall ...more
Eileen
I really enjoyed this biography for its look at Beatrix Potter's life both before and after "her little books." I loved reading her little books both as a child and to my children. I knew of her persistence to save the Lakeland District but reading of the details she went to ensure the preservation of the land, the lifestyles of the farming community, and the animals raised there.

Although Lear went into more details then I was looking for about her trials as a Victorian/Edwardian woman with a mo
...more
JennLynn
An amazing portrait of a most extraordinary woman. Beatrix Potter was so very much more than Peter Rabbit's creator and this thorough (and lengthy) biography illuminates all aspects of her life. In her youth she was a highly knowledgeable amateur naturalist and scientist, quite an expert on fungi. And in her later years she was an equally knowledgeable farmer and dedicated to preserving land in her beloved Lake District as well as the distinctive Herdwick sheep. For anyone seriously interested i ...more
Justine
I'm sorry, Ms. Lear. I can see you did a lot of research and have created a loving and fair depiction of Beatrix Potter. I would have liked to see another editorial pass to put more life in your sentences. The information is all there but there is no style, no flow. If I were doing a research paper, I would get through this book. However, I could not call it a pleasure and I did not finish it.

For a quick and lively jaunt through Potter's life, I recommend The Tale of Beatrix Potter by Margaret L
...more
Susan
My free video birthday rental this year was Miss Potter, and as is often the case, seeing a movie piques my interest in knowing "the real story." So I began Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature. I was a bit put off by its length - the notes alone are over 100 pages - but I'm glad I stuck with it.

Beatrix was truly entranced by nature her whole life. From her childhood, when she sketched little rabbits, mice and other pets, to her vacations with her family when she spent her time sketching the beautif
...more
Summer
This book was tedious, as most thorough biographies are, but fascinating. I had no idea that Beatrix Potter was such a philanthropist. This book gave you a complete picture of her life and who she was as a person, not just how she felt about the books she wrote.
Wayne
Adds a lot of depth to her illustrations and stories. I've always loved her stuff since I was little. Not an exciting life, but evocative and well-written.
Carrie
Chapter and chapters on her interest in Fungi! OMG what am I doing!
Karina
This is such a thorough biography of the life of Beatrix Potter, I was absorbed by the content, but I found the writing style of Linda Lear a little dull, it was as though she was making lists, and this made the reading more dull than it could have been, especially considering Beatrix's writing was often full of fun and emotion. Despite this, I consider this an important book for all those that loved her characters' from childhood and beyond and to publicly express what wonderful contribution Be ...more
Miz Lizzie
Beatrix Potter is one of my heroines. I grew up loving all of her "little books" with the gorgeous illustrations and stories of animal adventures. When I was eleven I visited her home in the Lake District and grew aware of her essential role in preserving the countryside in that region. I love that she was a late-bloomer and struggled to find means to express herself and carve a life of her own. Linda Lear focuses her examination of Beatrix Potter's life on her deep love of nature and the variou ...more
Annette
Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear is an enjoyable and engaging biography. I loved Lear's biography on Rachel Carson, so I knew this one would be great too. Before reading the book, I just thought of Potter as the author of Peter Rabbit. I never really thought about her as an artist, naturalist, environmentalist, conservationist, and lover of lichens! [return][return]Although she lived in a very different era, I felt a deep connection to this person who loved drawing, nature, and boo ...more
Almeta
Linda Lear must have been a fan of James A. Michener. She was very thorough.

There are six pages of acknowledgments and a three page list of illustration identification.

I learned of every hill and dale that Beatrix and her family visited; thank you for a map!

Relatives and friends and pets are detailed. Moss, toadstools and lichen experiments abound.

Actually Beatrix had a very wide range of interests: “archeology, botany, ornithology, mycology, geology, entomology”. She drew insects, animals, flow
...more
Mary Etta
Jan 22, 2011 Mary Etta rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary Etta by: Heather and book group choice.
This was a biggie. At the beginning it was a real plod of a very well-researched biography. As the focus turned to Beatrix and her interest in drawing and watercolor her love of nature it was often delightful. Ms. Lear's efforts of "eight long years" were condensed for the rest of us. The book is a wonderful tribute to a very remarkable woman from a time of zero encouragement for women to further any of their commercial interests, as well as anyone in the preservation of the beauty of England's ...more
Mom
A very in-depth biography of the well loved children's book author and illustrator. I had not known that she was an "amateur" mycologist (could have been professional with proper training which was denied her due to her gender in the 1880-90's. Still, she made some discoveries both in species and regarding their reproduction.) Despite a somewhat isolated childhood, the contacts she did have were enlightening and helped her form strong opinions regarding science, art, politics, and conservation. ...more
Kate
Aug 01, 2009 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: children's book readers; nature readers; biography readers
Shelves: nf
Slow going, but really interesting if you like Beatrix Potter's books, or even just late Victorian women's lives. I'm not sure if it's the writing or the bits the author wants to include, but when I say slow, I mean 10-pages-to-the-half-hour and then a nice break slow. However, the information is fascinating (and also neat to compare to the movie Miss Potter). The details about being a good daughter in the 40 years around the turn of the century are amazing (and often maddening). There are some ...more
Elaine
This is taking me so long to read. Got past the fungi though so now it is becoming more interesting to me.

******

Chapters of fungi.

I wanted to write down something Beatrix wrote in a letter about her mother, who died at a very old age. It was something about Beatrix being exasperated because she would not die, being on the brink of death one moment, then waking and asking for tea the next. I thought it was funny and the author included it, not to portray Beatrix as cold and unfeeling, but to illu
...more
LH
A little halfway through and I still can't motivate myself to finish it. The subject is fascinating, the writing is drab, very matter of fact. Who is this book written for? Seems written for the Beatrix Potter scholar, not the general public. A fascinating woman, ahead of her time in many ways, held back by her gender and her adherence to social convention. Doors opened by her talent, intellect, and family/class, yet also slammed shut for her gender, class, etc. Possibly done wrong by her family ...more
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