July 28 -- Happy Birthday, Beatrix Potter

Born in England on this day in 1866, Beatrix Potter grew up to be one of the most important children's authors of the early nineteenth century.

Potter lived at a time when women were not encouraged to learn or practice science, but she still attempted to follow her interest in fungi and lichens. (She was one of the first people
to correctly suggest that lichens were fungi and algae working together.) Her uncle tried to introduce her as a student to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, but she was rejected because of her sex. One of her papers was presented to the Linnean Society by her uncle, because as a woman she wasn't allowed to attend society meetings. The Royal Society refused to publish her scientific papers. Rejection, rejection, rejection—nevertheless, Potter's beautiful drawings and paintings of lichens and fungi, plus some insightful papers, did result in grudging respect. After she died, at least one of the scientific societies issued an apology for the way she was treated.

Potter found a more popular reception with her anthropomorphic animal books such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit. (Anthropomorphic means making animals behave like humans, usually including having them wear clothes and talking.) The drawing and painting ability that contributed to Potter's scientific work made her woodland animal illustrations immensely popular to this day.
Enjoy Potter's work.
  • Read one of Beatrix Potter's many stories. If you don't have them in book form, here is a website to explore and enjoy.
  • Here is a picture of Peter Rabbit for you to color.
  • Here is a recipe for Biscuit Bonnets and Berry Baskets.
  • Here is a word search puzzle from Potter's Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.
  • The Renee Zellweger/Ewan McGregor movie “Miss Potter” (Rated PG) is popular with some families. I have to admit, I don't think I've ever seen it. (Warning: apparently it's sad.)
  • Here is a Peter Rabbit online jigsaw puzzle—in 6 pieces, or 48, or many other cuts and levels of difficulty.
  • Beatrix Potter illustrated her books with water color paintings. Why don't you try your hand at painting animals with water colors?

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