The Tale of Beatrix Potter: A Biography
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When Beatrix Potter died in 1943 few knew the full story of her life. Margaret Lane's remarkable piece of literary detective work, originally published only three years after Beatrix's death, told her story for the first time. Extensively revised in 1985 to include new material that had come to light, it remains essential reading for anyone interested in the background to the author of the famous "Peter Rabbit Tales."
she forced herself to face it. Their reaction was precisely what she had expected, and she fell back for a time on her old resource of dogged patience: though perhaps doubting her ability, at forty-seven and in poor health, to repeat the difficult victory of ten years before. There had, however, in this later controversy been an unexpected note. Bertram, emerging from his Scottish retreat to pay one of his infrequent visits to his parents, had been pressed into the fray; and had astonished them,
ninety-three, with faculties unimpaired, and her way of life, with its punctuality and scrupulous observances, undergoing hardly any modification. ‘My mother is ninety-one and very well,’ Beatrix wrote to her cousin Caroline Clark in 1930. ‘I wish I were as little troubled as she is. If she gets a cold it is only a sniff—and I have been in bed twice this winter already … She is very lucky in having good lungs, no rheumatism, and good eyesight.’ And in 1932, finding herself at last answering
winter—through tempest, frost or heat, we live our patient day’s allotted span. Wild and free as when the stonemen told our puzzled early numbers; untamed as when the Norsemen named our grassings in their stride. Our little feet had ridged the slopes before the passing Romans. On through the fleeting centuries, when fresh blood came from Iceland, Spain or Scotland—stubborn, unchanged, unbeaten—we have held the stony waste.’ This lonely farm, covering the Troutbeck valley and the surrounding
Troutbeck property’, and the walled garden and wood at Belmount Hall, a house she had inherited, kept as a bird sanctuary. The copyright of all her works she bequeathed first to her husband, then to the favourite nephew of Norman Warne. That done, she turned her mind to Hill Top, still dearest refuge and symbol of first freedom, and the manifold little relics and treasures which it was harder to think of as scattered than all her more valuable properties. As she had kept it for more than forty