Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature

Linda Lear, Author . St. Martin's $30 (584p) ISBN 978-0-312-36934-7

Beatrix Potter (1866–1943), creator of the immortal Peter Rabbit, is known as an avid writer of comical illustrated letters to friends and as an assertive marketer of her illustrations, and this lively volume also captures her energetic participation in Victorian-era natural history research and conservation. Environmental historian Lear (Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature ) relates that, as a child in an upper-middle-class family, Potter sketched flowers, dead animals and live lizards, insects and rodents that she brought home. "Rabbits were caught, tamed, sketched, painted" by young Beatrix and her brother, Bertram. In 1893, while traveling with her pet rabbit, Peter Piper, and seeking unusual fungi with self-taught mycologist Charles McIntosh, Potter jotted an illustrated note "about a disobedient young rabbit called 'Peter' " to an ailing child friend and sketched Peter's nemesis, a McIntosh–look-alike farmer called Mr. McGregor, creating "two fictional characters that one day would be world-famous." Lear judges Potter "a brilliant amateur" naturalist who expressed strong convictions about land preservation. Potter's witty journals, with their close observations of people, animals, objects and places, serve as the basis for Lear's engrossing account, which will appeal to ecologists, historians, child lit buffs and those who want to know the real Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Benjamin Bunny. A movie, Miss Potter , also releases in January. 16 pages of color illus., 8 pages of b&w illus. not seen by PW . (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/04/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 583 pages - 978-0-312-37796-0
Open Ebook - 608 pages - 978-1-4299-7215-4
Paperback - 608 pages - 978-1-250-09419-3
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