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One a day Live

The surprising life of children's writer and natural scientist Beatrix Potter

Yesterday marked the birthday of Beatrix Potter, the author who gave us the beloved animal stories such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

However, some may be suprised to know that Ms Potter was also an illustrator and natural scientist and conservationist.

The iconic illustrations accompanying the books of Peter Rabbit, Jeremy Fischer, Jemima Puddleduck and friends were made by Potter herself.

Born in London, UK in 1866, Beatrix (whose full name was Helen Beatrix Potter) penned her first children's book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit back in 1902. A lover of literature and languages, she drew her own stories of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The author kept a journal between 1881 and 1897 that was written in a code she invented, and which was only later deciphered.

Potter devoted most of her time to study natural history and in 1896, even developed her own theory of how fungi spores reproduced, writing a paper titled 'On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae'. Her illustrations were included in mycologist W.P.K Findlay's book, Wayside & Woodland Fungi.

The Beatrix Potter Society states that the paper was presented to a meeting of the Linnean Society in 1897 by a mycologist from the Royal Botantic Gardens (women were prohibited from attending) but the paper has since been lost. The Linnean Society issued an apology after her death in 1997 for the sexist handling of her research.

In 1909, Potter bought a property in Sawrey to own land in the Lake District and prevent it from development. In 1913, she founded a nursing trust to improve local healthcare, and bought a disease-ridden sheep farm to restore it.

Following her death on December 22, 1943, Potter bequeathed her 15 farms and 4,000 acres to the National Trust and is largely credited for preserving much of the Lake District National Park.

Throughout her life, Potter wrote thirty books and as of 2017, had an astroid 13975 Beatrixpotter named after her.

What is your favourite Beatrix Potter character or book?