Beatrix Potter was far ahead of her time – as a woman in Victorian and Edwardian days, it was not customary to do research at Kew Gardens as a scientist, nor to publish your own books, nor to earn money by selling greetings cards, nor to become a businesswoman buying land in the Lake District. But she achieved all these things.

A Happy Pair / The Beatrix Potter Society

Beatrix Potter a businesswoman

Beatrix Potter knew that she needed to make her own money if she wanted to be an independent woman.  Her first earnings were from selling drawings to Hildesheimer & Faulkner for greetings cards and illustrations to A Happy Pair, a book of rhymes by Frederic E Weatherly. Some of the money helped to buy her rabbit Peter Piper.

Also in the 1890s, Ernest Nister published some of Beatrix Potter’s drawings in their books, including those for ‘A Frog he would a-fishing Go’ in Nister’s Holiday Annual for 1896, where they illustrated a set of verses by Clifton Bingham.

Beatrix Potter before the NHS

In May 1919, Beatrix Potter helped to set up a Nursing Trust for the villages of Sawrey, Hawkshead and Wray, buying a house and a car for the use of the nurse. She could see the benefits of having a District Nurse, not only for herself but for all the local residents, to improve health care, and in 1948 the arrangement was taken over by the NHS (National Health Service).

Hawkshead Village / The Beatrix Potter Society

Jemima Puddle-Duck doll / The Beatrix Potter Society

Beatrix Potter and Merchandising

A woman of unusual entrepreneurial genius, Beatrix Potter registered a Peter Rabbit doll in 1903, recognising that ‘spin-off’ merchandise such as painting books, board games, and printed wallpapers with Peter Rabbit and his friends would be marketing assets for her work. In 1910, Beatrix also registered a Jemima doll, produced by a company called Farnell to Beatrix’s own design. The Beatrix Potter Society owns one of the original dolls.

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These books supply more information about the art, interests and writing of Beatrix Potter.

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