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Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,290 Ratings  ·  188 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 succe

Paperback, 608 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Susan Branch
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, animals
Don't be fooled by Beatrix Potter's charming drawings -- this was a tough, unsentimental woman who loved the nitty-gritty, dirty work of farming and animal-breeding, negotiated with the best to create vast swathes of land for Britain's National Trust, and managed her own merchandising better than any publisher. I read this book slowly, savoring the details of her scientific explorations (fungi, animals), her scrupulous editing of her wee picture books, her marriage, and her friendships. (One, wi ...more
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
This is a HUGE book so I've been reading it for over a month on my lunch breaks and it's incredibly interesting. I've never been a fan of Beatrix Potter's stories, I'm not a huge animal lover and I don't really like books with animals as main characters which is like EVERY ONE OF HER CHILDREN'S BOOKS. But I picked this up on a whim because I liked the cover and wow, I was sucked into it. Beatrix Potter's life is really incredible, interesting and worth the read. I say that with it being over 500 ...more
From BBC radio 4 - Book of the Week:
Lindsay Duncan reads from a Linda Lear's biography of the 20th century's most beloved children's writer and creator of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter.

1/5: This opening episode reveal Potter's north country ancestry and the landscapes that nurtured her creative imagination.

2/5: Linda Lear's biography of the author reveals how Peter Rabbit and Jeremy Fisher came to be born.

3/5. Potter's initial success as a writer was paralleled by an increasingly close relationsh
Fascinating and highly detailed account of the life of Beatrix Potter.
Carl Rollyson
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Louise Leetch
Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC7 listeners
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2007 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.
Lisa Feld
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lear does a wonderful job here of making Beatrix Potter come alive as a naturalist, author, and landowner, one who both chafes against her Victorian upbringing and carries those values forward through World Wars I and II. The book is roughly divided into thirds, the first third covering Potter's upbringing and development as a formidable amateur naturalist at a time when the scientific community was trying to elevate itself by insisting on academic credentials regardless of the value of the obse ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Recommended. The only negatives: I wish there were more photos, and a map of all the properties she was able to conserve.
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to CarolineFromConcord by: Brain Pickings, Maria Popova
A thorough and intriguing biography showing the relationship between all the threads in the life of a woman best known for *The Tale of Peter Rabbit* -- against a backdrop of late-Victorian England and two world wars.

Beatrix Potter comes across as a multitalented, sometimes ornery, independent spirit, constrained in youth by gender prejudice and her own quest for new experiences from going farther with cutting-edge research and illustration of mushrooms and fungi. (One hundred years after she pr
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
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
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
Joy E. Rancatore
Oct 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
It was a cold, wet November day in 1918.

Beatrix Potter is well-known as the author and artist of The Tale Of Peter Rabbit and creator of many other beloved characters such as Jemima Puddle-duck and Benjamin Bunny. But she was also a woman of business acumen. She was a budding naturalist who fought to preserve the Lake District of England for future generations. In this book, Linda Lear explores all facets of Beatrix Potter's life and work.

The only things I knew about Beatrix Potter before read
Gloria Piper
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never think of Beatrix Potter as a frivolous lightweight. She was more than simply the author of children's tales, such as Peter Rabbit. From earliest childhood, she was unusually observant and had a great love of nature. Something her mother couldn't abide. Beatrix's room was filled with collections of wild things, including the living. She studied nature and drew it with great understanding. To this day, her drawings of mushrooms remain the best in scientific illustration.

Ever the dutiful dau
Jun 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bea Elwood
Making it to the last page was an act of admiration for the amazing life Beatrix Potter created for herself despite opposition and setbacks. A remarkable well researched book that felt exhausting to read although well written. Everyone and everything and every place Beatrix knew, did or went is recorded here, including multiple generations and centuries worth of history. Admittedly I wanted to read more about her engagement to Normal Warne after watching that movie with Renee Zellweger but this ...more
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
The Library Lady
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-biography
Eminently readable. A good deal of the rest of the material was familiar to me, but Potter's work in painting and studying fungi was new to me and fascinating. I suppose it is a good thing for children's lit that she wasn't taken seriously by the scientists or the time, or we wouldn't have Peter Rabbit and Co!
Hildegunn Hodne
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brick of a biography, but very well written. Gives information about all aspects of Beatrix' life; not everything equally interesting but all part of a rich and diverse life. You get a good impression of the woman behind the drawings and stories, although even more drawings could have been included.
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“The part of the Lake District that Beatrix Potter chose as her own was not only physically beautiful, it was a place in which she felt emotionally rooted as a descendant of hard-working north-country folk. The predictable routines of farm life appealed to her. There was a realism in the countryside that nurtured a deep connection. The scale of the villages was manageable. Yet the vast desolateness of the surrounding fells was awe-inspiring. It was mysterious, but easily imbued with fantasy and tamed by imagination. The sheltered lakes and fertile valleys satisfied her love of the pastoral. The hill farms and the sheep on the high fells demanded accountability. There was a longing in Beatrix Potter for association with permanence: to find a place where time moved slowly, where places remained much as she remembered them from season to season and from year to year.” 0 likes
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