Timeline

 

1866

July 28

Helen Beatrix Potter born at 2 Bolton Gardens, South Kensington, London, first child of Helen and Rupert Potter.

1871

 

Potter family holiday at Dalguise House, Dunkeld, Scotland, their ‘summer home’ for the next eleven years.

1872

March 14

Walter Bertram Potter, Beatrix’s brother, born at 2 Bolton Gardens.

1875

 

Earliest example of Beatrix’ s drawing, a sketchbook at age nine, of birds, butterflies and caterpillars (Victoria & Albert Museum, London).

1880

April 22

Art Student’s Certificate, Science and Art Department, South Kensington Museum, awarded to Helen Beatrix Potter for model drawing and freehand. ‘Excellent’ in both.

1881

 

First entry in fifteen year-old Beatrix’s Journal in a code devised by her; simple letter-for-letter substitution, not ‘cracked’ until 1958.

 

May 6

Art Student’s Certificate for practical geometry and perspective. Again ‘excellent’ in both categories.

1882

July-October

Potter family’s first Lake District holiday, at Wray Castle. Beatrix meets Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the three founders of the National Trust.

1883

April 18

Miss Annie Carter, aged nineteen, appointed as new governess and German teacher for sixteen-year-old Beatrix.

 

April 19

Eleven-year-old Bertram sent away to boarding school.

1884

January 31

Earliest known example of Beatrix’s drawing of bats (Victoria & Albert Museum). She was seventeen.

1885

 

Annie Carter leaves the Potter household to marry Edwin Moore. Beatrix acquires her first rabbit, Benjamin Bouncer.

1886

February

Beatrix’s first recorded microscope watercolour – study of gnat’s leg (Victoria & Albert Museum).

1887

April-May

Beatrix has serious rheumatic fever affecting her heart.

 

October 12

Beatrix’s earliest recorded fungus drawing, Verdigris Toadstool (Stropharia aeruginosa) (Armitt).

 

December 24

Birth of Moores’ first child, Noel Christian.

1889

 

Benjamin Bouncer models for the Potter family Christmas cards.

1890

May 14

Beatrix sells first drawings to Hildesheimer & Faulkner, London. Used as greetings cards and as illustrations to a book of rhymes, A Happy Pair by Frederic E. Weatherly.

1891

November 10

Potters sell Camfield Place, the ‘much loved’ country house where Beatrix’s paternal grandparents had lived since 1866.

 

November 12

Beatrix’s sketches rejected by Frederick Warne.

1892

October 29

On holiday (since July 26) with her family in Birnam, Scotland, Beatrix meets Charles McIntosh, ‘The Perthshire Naturalist’, to discuss her paintings of fungi and mosses. He promises to send specimens of fungi to London for her to paint.

 

 

The publishers, Ernest Nister, buy some of Beatrix’s drawings to use as illustrations in their children’s annuals.

1893

September 3

On holiday with her family at Eastwood, Dunkeld, Scotland, Beatrix paints the rare fungus Old Man of the Woods (Strobilomyces floccopus) (Armitt and Perth Museums).

 

September 4

From Eastwood, Dunkeld, Beatrix sends five-year-old Noel Moore a story about her pet rabbit, Peter.

 

September 5

Beatrix sends four-year-old Eric Moore a picture letter about a ‘frog called Mr. Jeremy Fisher’.

1894

January 10

Charles McIntosh suggests Beatrix includes technical points in her fungus paintings ‘to make them more perfect as botanical drawings’.

 

June 12

Beatrix visits her cousin, Caroline Hutton, at Harescombe Grange, near Stroud, in Gloucestershire, noting, ‘I had not been away independently for five years.’

 

July 17 – 
Early October

During the family holiday in Lennel, Scotland, Beatrix discovers (and draws) the important botanical fossil Araucarioxylon, now Pitus.

 

October

Beatrix records in her Journal that ‘more or less in a year’ she had learned by heart six complete plays by Shakespeare.

 

October

Beatrix draws to scale a collection of Roman objects found in the City of London 1872-73.

1895

March

Ernest Nister publish Beatrix’s drawings ‘A Frog he would a Fishing Go’ in Nister’s Holiday Annual for 1896 and in Comical Customers at the New Stores of Comical Rhymes and Stories.

 

 

Caroline Martineau commissions Beatrix to prepare twelve lithographed plates of insects. Only the Sheet Web Spider and the Privet Hawk Moth survive. It is not known if the remaining ten were ever finished.

1896

May 20

Beatrix goes to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with her uncle, Sir Henry Roscoe, to show her fungus drawings to Director W. Thiselton-Dyer.

 

July 15 – October 6

The Potters holiday in Near Sawrey in the Lake District, Beatrix commenting, ‘It is as nearly perfect a little place as I ever lived in.’

 

December 7

Beatrix delivers Paper on germination of fungus spores to Thiselton-Dyer and is rejected.

1897

January 31

Final entry in Journal notes Beatrix is hard at work revising her Paper, ‘On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae‘.

 

April 1

Paper by thirty year-old Helen B. Potter presented to The Linnean Society of London by George Massee from Kew, women not being allowed to attend Society meetings.

1901

January 26

Peter Rabbit dies. Beatrix later wrote, ‘Whatever the limitations of his intellect or outward shortcomings of his fur, and his ears and toes, his disposition was uniformly amiable and his temper unfailingly sweet. An affectionate companion and a quiet friend.’

 

September 18

Frederick Warne show interest in The Tale of Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregor’s Garden by Beatrix Potter but reject rhyming text by Hardwicke Rawnsley. Beatrix refuses to colour her black-and-white illustrations.

 

September 25

Beatrix tells story of Squirrel Nutkin in picture letter to eight-year-old Norah Moore.

 

December 16

Beatrix Potter publishes The Tale of Peter Rabbit privately in an edition of 250 copies, with black-and-white illustrations and a coloured frontispiece.

1902

February

Beatrix reprints 200 copies of her edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

 

July

Beatrix plans a book of rhymes called Appley Dapply, an abridged edition of which would not be published until 1917.

 

October

Frederick Warne publish 8,000 copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, shortened and illustrated in full colour throughout.

 

November 20

Bertram Potter secretly marries Mary Welsh Scott in Edinburgh.

 

December

Beatrix privately publishes 500 copies of The Tailor of Gloucester.

1903

August

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin is published by Frederick Warne.

 

October

A shorter version of The Tailor of Gloucester is published by Warne.

 

November 26 – December 3

Beatrix, on holiday in Hastings, writes The Tale of Two Bad MiceThe Tale of Tuppenny, and The Pie and The Patty-Pan.

 

December 28

Beatrix registers her Peter Rabbit doll at the Patent Office.

1904

September

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and The Tale of Two Bad Mice are published by Warne.

 

December 7

Beatrix sends Warne the plan and rules for a game she has devised called The Game of Peter Rabbit.

1905

July 25

Beatrix receives a proposal of marriage by letter from Norman Warne, her editor at Frederick Warne. Against her parents’ wishes, thirty-nine-year-old Beatrix accepts.

 

August 25

Norman Warne dies of leukaemia at the age of thirty-seven.

 

 

Peter Rabbit wallpaper goes on sale.

 

September

The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle is published by Warne.

 

October

The Pie and The Patty-Pan is published by Warne, first of the series in a larger format and the first with black-and-white illustrations as well as colour plates.

 

November

Beatrix buys Hill Top, a working farm in the village of Near Sawrey in the Lake District.

1906

July

The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher is published by Warne in the original little book format.

 

September

Beatrix starts to breed Herdwick sheep at Hill Top Farm.

 

November

The Story of Miss Moppet and The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit are published in panoramic format by Warne.

1907

 

Beatrix visits Hill Top Farm whenever she can get away from London. At the farm she now has cows, ducks, hens and pigs, as well as sheep.

 

September

The Tale of Tom Kitten is published by Warne.

1908

August

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck is published by Warne.

 

October

The Roly-Poly Pudding  is published by Warne in the larger format.

1909

 

Beatrix buys a second farm in Near Sawrey called Castle Farm.

 

July

The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, a sequel to Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, is published by Warne.

 

October

Ginger and Pickles  is published by Warne in the larger format.

1910

June 17

Beatrix registers a Jemima Puddle-duck doll at the Patent Office.

 

July

The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse is published by Warne.

1911

October

The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes and Peter Rabbit’s Painting Book are published by Warne.

1912

October

The Tale of Mr. Tod is published by Warne, advertised as ‘The Peter Rabbit Books, Series II, New Style’.

 

 

Beatrix successfully campaigns against hydroplanes on Windermere.

 

End of year

Forty-six-year-old Beatrix accepts proposal of marriage from Lake District solicitor, William Heelis.

1913

October

The Tale of Pigling Bland is published by Warne.

 

October 15

Beatrix Potter and William Heelis marry at St Mary Abbots, Kensington, London. Choose Castle Cottage as home, keeping Hill Top as a place for Beatrix to work.

1914

May 8

Beatrix’s father, Rupert Potter, dies in London, aged eighty-two.

 

August 4

Britain declares war on Germany. Beatrix manages the farms, feeding the calves, pigs and poultry.

1916

April

Eleanor (Louie) Choyce, aged forty, is employed by Beatrix to help with the farm and garden.

 

October

The Story of Miss Moppet and The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit are issued by Warne in little book format.

1917

April 26

Harold Warne is sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment for forgeries.

 

June

Frederick Warne, in serious financial trouble, ask Beatrix for a new book.

 

October

Warne publish Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes, the collection of rhymes begun in 1902.

1918

May

Peter Rabbit handkerchiefs go on sale.

 

June 22

Bertram Potter dies at home in Scotland, of a cerebral haemorrhage, aged forty-six.

 

November 11

Armistice signed between the Allies and Germany, marking the end of the First World War.

 

December

The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse is published by Warne.

1919

May 25

The new firm, Frederick Warne & Company Limited, is registered in London.

 

 

Beatrix’s mother, eighty-year-old Helen Potter, buys Lindeth How, Windermere.

 

 

Beatrix helps to set up a Nursing Trust for the villages of Sawrey, Hawkshead and Wray. She buys a house and car for the nurse.

1920

May 28

Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley dies, aged sixty-nine.

1921

May

The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of Benjamin Bunny are published in French by Warne, as Pierre Lapin and Jeannot Lapin.

 

 

Six of the little books are published in Braille by The Royal Institute for the Blind.

 

June 27

Anne Carroll Moore, Superintendent of Children’s Work, New York Public Library, visits Beatrix and encourages her to write a new book.

 

December

Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes is published by Warne.

1923

 

Beatrix buys Troutbeck Park Farm, 1,900 acre sheep farm.

 

 

The Potter family home in London, 2 Bolton Gardens, is sold.

1925

August

Jemima Puddle-duck’s Painting Book is published by Warne.

1926

October

The title of The Roly-Poly Pudding is changed to The Tale of Samuel Whiskers and reprinted in little book format. The title is not changed in USA until 1980s.

 

November

Beatrix employs shepherd Tom Storey at Troutbeck Park Farm.

1927

 

Tom Storey moves from Troutbeck Park to Hill Top Farm.

 

May

Beatrix sells fifty redrawn Peter Rabbit illustrations through The Horn Book Magazine, Boston, for the National Trust to save the Windermere lake frontage from developers.

 

September 21

Thirteen-year-old Henry P. Coolidge from Boston visits Beatrix. The Fairy Caravan would be dedicated to him.

1928

September

Warne publish Peter Rabbit’s Almanac for 1929.

1929

October

David McKay, Philadelphia, publish The Fairy Caravan. It is not published in the UK until July 1952.

1930

January 31

Sixty-three-year-old Beatrix buys 5,000-acre Monk Coniston Estate on condition that National Trust will take over half when money raised.

 

September

Beatrix wins silver challenge cup for best Lake District Herdwick ewe.

 

September

The Tale of Little Pig Robinson is published by Frederick Warne and David McKay. USA edition has more illustrations.

 

October

Half Monk Coniston Estate bought by National Trust from Beatrix, who agrees to continue management of entire estate.

1931

December

Beatrix starts new book, intended as sequel to The Fairy Caravan.

1932

December

David McKay publish Sister Anne, ‘an absurd and grisly version of Bluebeard”, illustrated by Katharine Sturges. Never issued in the UK.

 

December 20

Helen Potter dies aged ninety-three.

1936

March

Approaching seventy, Beatrix acquires first Pekinese dog, Tzusee.

 

September

Walt Disney’s request to make film of Peter Rabbit refused by Beatrix. ‘To enlarge … will show up all the imperfections’.

 

July

Beatrix buys second Pekinese puppy, Chuleh.

 

July

Noel Moore, ‘a middle aged active man, a clergyman in Kent’, visits Beatrix at Hill Top.

1937

January 1

Beatrix hands over management of National Trust half of Monk Coniston Estate to their first Lake District Land Agent, Bruce Thompson.

1938

July 13

Beatrix agrees to Braille edition of The Fairy Caravan in USA.

 

November

Beatrix has operation in the Women’s Hospital, Liverpool.

1939

March 30

In hospital again, Beatrix dictates her Will and asks close friends to look after her husband ‘if I don’t return’.

 

April

Beatrix returns to Castle Cottage to convalesce.

 

July 3

Watches sheep shearing and cattle herding at Troutbeck Park Farm.

 

September 3

Britain and France declare war on Germany.

 

October

Beatrix and William buy pony cart to help stretch petrol ration. Beatrix supervises farm work and breeds rabbits to supplement meat ration. Willie serves on War Agricultural Committee and as reserve policeman.

1941

April

Whole edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit lost in bombing raid on London.

 

April 19

Warne send Beatrix original The Tale of Peter Rabbit drawings for safekeeping.

 

May

Louie Choyce returns to Hill Top to help on the farm.

 

December 7

Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

 

December 8

Britain and USA declare war on Japan.

1942

January

Beatrix receives first food parcel from friends in USA.

1943

March 19

At AGM of Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association Beatrix is elected President from March 1944. She would have been the first woman President of the Association.

 

August

Beatrix agrees to publication of Wag-by-Wall (story originally intended for The Fairy Caravan) in Christmas edition of The Horn Book Magazine, then agrees to postponement until May for Twentieth Anniversary Issue. She would not live to see publication.

 

December 10

Beatrix struck down by bronchitis and heart trouble.

 

December 22

Seventy-seven-year-old Beatrix Potter Heelis dies in the night at Castle Cottage, her husband by her side.

 

 

Cremated in Blackpool, Beatrix’s ashes are scattered by her shepherd and farm manager, Tom Storey, on her land in Near Sawrey.

1945

August 4

William Heelis dies in Parey Crost Nursing Home, York. The joint Heelis properties, over 4,000 acres with seventeen farms and eight cottages, are bequeathed to the National Trust.

Text copyright Judy Taylor, 2011

 

Dalguise House, Perthshire Rupert Potter 1880

Wray Castle, Cumbria Rupert Potter 1882

Eastwood House, Perthshire Betsy Bray 2004

Hill Top, Cumbria drawn by Beatrix Potter 1905

Hill Top, Cumbria Jenny Akester 2009