A little girl in Victorian England, Beatrix Potter was taught music and art while her brother was sent away to school. She was a shy, reserved personality when interacting with the outside world, but her secret diary written in her own code, revealed a gregarious woman with highly critical opinions of her fellow artists. After the tragic death of her fiancé and publisher, Norman Warne, Beatrix remained unmarried until the age of 47, when she married William Heelis, a Lake District solicitor. She dedicated her later years to preserving the ecology and natural beauty of England's Lake District. She worked closely with The National Trust and left them a substantial part of her estate to be preserved as a living landscape.Beatrix Potter began to draw at a very early age, encouraged by her parents, Rupert and Helen. Her earliest drawings were mostly sketches of plants and animals.The family's friendship with the painter Millais, gave her an insight into the world of artists and visits to the Royal Academy developed her critical skills. She very much enjoyed the work of Gainsborough, Reynolds, Raphael and Titian. There are many detailed accounts of her visits to these exhibitions in her Journal.During the 1890s Beatrix concentrated on natural history and in particular fungi, although at the same time she was earning a small income by selling illustrations for booklets, greetings cards and albums. Throughout her life she was guided by the principle of portraying nature as accurately as possible in her art. Beatrix Potter is usually associated with her famous animal character illustrations, and many people are surprised to learn of the wide variety of subjects in her sketches and paintings, ranging from animals to landscapes, flowers to fossils.
Long before Beatrix Potter was published, she drew illustrations from some of her favorite childhood stories - Cinderella and the Brer Rabbit stories by Uncle Remus. She drew these mostly to please herself, although sometimes she would give the pictures to friends and relatives. In the early 1890s her first published work appeared - greetings card designs and illustrations for a booklet, A Happy Pair, for the publisher Hildesheimer & Faulkner.
Beatrix Potter's sketchbooks, many of them held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and by The National Trust, contain many landscape drawings of the significant places in her life. Some were even used as backgrounds for the illustrations in The Peter Rabbit Books.
Here are two of them.