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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BRITAIN
 
  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

 
More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
Beatrix Potter

(1866–1943)
Author of a series of enduring classics for young children. The stories are deceptively simple, told with a certain irony and allowing the animals strongly differentiated characters; Beatrix Potter's delicate watercolour illustrations are based on close observation of nature and of the habits of her many pets. The early books emerged from stories in illustrated letters to the children of her former governess, sent in the 1890s when she was living with her parents in London.
 






Her pets at the time included a rabbit and a hedgehog called respectively Peter and Mrs Tiggy. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902) was her first published success (it had been printed privately at her own expense in 1901). Its very first scene demonstrates what made her books amusing and pleasantly alarming to young children. Mrs Rabbit tells her offspring not to go into Mr MacGregor's garden and explains why: 'Your father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs MacGregor.'
 






Characters whose tales were told in similar style in the following years included Benjamin Bunny, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Jeremy Fisher, Tom Kitten, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Samuel Whiskers. After 1913 she was less productive. In that year she married William Heelis, a local solicitor who had helped in her 1905 purchase of a farm near Sawrey in the Lake District. She now settled down to 30 years as an active farmer, specializing in the breeding of Herdwick sheep, a local variety. Her house, Hill Top, is kept as a museum; and a selection of her drawings and watercolours is exhibited in the building where her husband had his office, in nearby Hawkshead.
 








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