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The Tale of Beatrix Potter: A Biography

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30 review for The Tale of Beatrix Potter: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This was almost the antithesis to the BP biography by Linda Lear. Where Lear’s biography is detailed and unsentimental, Lane’s is highly opinionated and questionably factual. But I really enjoyed the narrative feel to the biography and Lane’s whimsical writing style. Overall this helped round out my recent Beatrix Potter binge!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    After watching the wonderful movie "Miss Potter" starring Renee Zellweger, I had to read this 1946 biography of Beatrix Potter written right after her death at age 77. It was published by the same company -- Frederick Warne & Co., Inc. -- that published her famous children's books. I was pleased to discover that the movie was fairly true to real life, especially in the romance with Norman Warne, though their engagement and his death took place later in their lives than in the movie -- they w After watching the wonderful movie "Miss Potter" starring Renee Zellweger, I had to read this 1946 biography of Beatrix Potter written right after her death at age 77. It was published by the same company -- Frederick Warne & Co., Inc. -- that published her famous children's books. I was pleased to discover that the movie was fairly true to real life, especially in the romance with Norman Warne, though their engagement and his death took place later in their lives than in the movie -- they were both almost 40. The book also reveals the amount of detail that went into her drawings, and she was meticulous about authenticity of detail and color. In "The Tailor of Gloucester," for instance, she sketched from clothing at the Victoria and Albert museum and was allowed to take models out of their cases such as the embroidered waistcoat. "She drew like a naturalist."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This biography of Beatrix Potter came into my hands serendipitously, so I was happy to give it a try, without knowing if it's the most completely researched one out there (I still don't know). Either way, it's an absorbing read. Margaret Lane writes engagingly, and the story of Potter's life really is far more interesting than anyone would expect. The book was first published in the 40s, shortly after Potter's death. My edition is the revised one from 1968, which takes into account the journal w This biography of Beatrix Potter came into my hands serendipitously, so I was happy to give it a try, without knowing if it's the most completely researched one out there (I still don't know). Either way, it's an absorbing read. Margaret Lane writes engagingly, and the story of Potter's life really is far more interesting than anyone would expect. The book was first published in the 40s, shortly after Potter's death. My edition is the revised one from 1968, which takes into account the journal written in cipher that was only decoded in the 50s, so anyone looking to acquire the book should get the later edition.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Terry Crawford Palardy

    This is a lovely story written by a lovely English Lady, wife of an Earl, and biography to many other authors, and a novelist herself as well. I particularly enjoyed the portions covering Beatrix Potter's childhood summers spent in Scotland, and her time enjoyed with her "grandmama" who allowed her to read in the family's literary collections. That this biography was published by the Warne company, the same company that published Beatrix's "little books," just adds to the delight in owning this bo This is a lovely story written by a lovely English Lady, wife of an Earl, and biography to many other authors, and a novelist herself as well. I particularly enjoyed the portions covering Beatrix Potter's childhood summers spent in Scotland, and her time enjoyed with her "grandmama" who allowed her to read in the family's literary collections. That this biography was published by the Warne company, the same company that published Beatrix's "little books," just adds to the delight in owning this book. It is one that I will save for my own grandchildren, and their children.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    One could write a very creepy version of Potter's life: the lonely child upstairs with her little animals, the lonely woman living with her parents until age 47, writing strange and surprising violent children's stories about rabbits and rats. The true story is amazing, however. She was kept close to home by her Victorian parents but found supporters for her publishing and scientific ventures. She invested her earnings wisely by buying farmland in the Lake District. When she finally found freedo One could write a very creepy version of Potter's life: the lonely child upstairs with her little animals, the lonely woman living with her parents until age 47, writing strange and surprising violent children's stories about rabbits and rats. The true story is amazing, however. She was kept close to home by her Victorian parents but found supporters for her publishing and scientific ventures. She invested her earnings wisely by buying farmland in the Lake District. When she finally found freedom and love in her marriage to the lawyer who helped her buy property, she devoted herself to the preservation of the Lake District landscape and to farming and sheep-raising. Smart woman, dedicated, self-possessed. I preferred this older book to the more modern Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature, by Linda Lear (2007). Lane's book is old-fashioned but lively. Lear has done more current research but has the writing style of a fifth-grader writing a school report. I couldn't finish it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rena Phung

    I love biographies of writers in general. I enjoyed this one. I loved the background info about Miss Potter's ancestry acknowledging the imprint of those that go before. I loved that despite Miss Potter's aristocratic upbringing she embraced and lived who she really was and became a sheep farmer! Her stories arose from her imagination as a result of being pent up in the city. Her soul wandered where her body could not yet go. (The recent movie "Miss Potter" based on this and other biographies is I love biographies of writers in general. I enjoyed this one. I loved the background info about Miss Potter's ancestry acknowledging the imprint of those that go before. I loved that despite Miss Potter's aristocratic upbringing she embraced and lived who she really was and became a sheep farmer! Her stories arose from her imagination as a result of being pent up in the city. Her soul wandered where her body could not yet go. (The recent movie "Miss Potter" based on this and other biographies is also well done--I enjoyed it)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    A simple read for fans of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit. It gave me good insight into her life.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lina Slavova

    "I have long held that the secret of the successful children’s book is that it is not written for children. … Outside appreciation of any kind is of secondary importance to the true children’s writer. For him the first and ultimate requirement is that the book should please himself. For he is the one for whom the book is written. With it he puts to sleep his wakeful youth and tells the story of the hidden child within him. Such works are more often than not the results of an imaginative mind pla "I have long held that the secret of the successful children’s book is that it is not written for children. … Outside appreciation of any kind is of secondary importance to the true children’s writer. For him the first and ultimate requirement is that the book should please himself. For he is the one for whom the book is written. With it he puts to sleep his wakeful youth and tells the story of the hidden child within him. Such works are more often than not the results of an imaginative mind playing its light over lonely childhoods. What the child lacked in those tender years the imagination gives back to it. " Pamela L. Travers This is what Pamela L. Travers wrote, under the pen name of Milo Reve, in her review of Beatrix Potter’s biography “The Tale of Beatrix Potter” written by Margaret Lane. When Beatrix Potter died in 1943, few knew the full story of her life and the “Tale of Beatrix Potter“, published in 1946, was the first account of her life. I wish I could ask Pamela if she was assigned to read and review the book or was she the one who chose the subject of her article. Anyhow, the tales of Beatrix Potter were part of Pamela L. Travers’s childhood reads, so in either case I believe she must have enjoyed the task. Pamela L. Travers’s book review was entitled “The Hidden Child” and was published in The New English Weekly on April 10, 1947 and luckily for me, it was reproduced in its entirety as an Appendix in Patricia Demers’s book “P.L. Travers“, a scholarly book I purchased some time ago on Amazon. The apparent intensity of Pamela’s deep understanding of the essence of the children’s writer is worthy of attention since all who knew her unanimously attest that she was quite self-absorbed and somewhat alienated from others. Pamela L. Travers was not particularly empathetic and her intimate relationships seem to have been quite tumultuous and complicated. Then, probably, any insight that she might have had of another human being’s experience must have been a resonance of an experience of her own. After reading the “Hidden Child” I decided to read the “Tale of Beatrix Potter” and see if I could find some evidence supporting my perception of the emotional connection that Pamela L. Travers must have felt when reading the “Tale of Beatrix Potter“. And indeed, reading the book, I realized that there were some obvious similarities between the early emotional experiences of both writers. As children, they were both kept fed and sheltered, but other than that they were pretty much ignored by their parents and were left to their own devices. Both girls experienced the neglect of their emotional needs and their budding talents were disregarded. Both loved and felt a deep connection with nature. Both were destined to take care of their parents and both desperately wanted to find and did find their way out. As young adults they both suffered from bouts of depression and both ended up writing stories that appealed to children. But I believe that Beatrix Potter’s transformation in the second half of her life, from a timid and lonely child to a farmer, conservationist and a business woman caused Pamela L. Travers’s admiration. Once Potter married, she lost all interest in writing and devoted herself to her husband and her true love, nature. Beatrix Potter became Mrs. Heelis, a sheep farmer, nature conservationist and an estate owner. Pamela L. Travers’s interpretation of Potter’s metamorphosis gives a glimpse of her own inner yearning: "And this retrospective (the story of the child within) my go on for book after book until the time comes when the child is appeased and freed. That the tales cease then is not necessarily a sign of failing imagination but rather that the writer has set himself free to find his fate in the grown-up world. …Beatrix Potter’s life is a perfect example of this pattern. … Full and rich with immediate life she had no overspill for the hidden child; indeed, because of that late fullness the child no longer needed her. She became what she had instinctively longed to be…" Pamela L.Travers Here it says it all…for those who listen…and do not judge…

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ape

    2007 bookcrossing journal: I picked up quite an old paperback copy of this one second hand about six months ago. I saw the film "Miss Potter" last weekend and was spurred on to read her biography. The film was great, incidentally, although they did use a bit of artistic license on a few details of her life. This was a great biography, but I'm only giving it an eight. Because I do think it's going to have limited appeal. You've either got to be interested in Beatrix or enjoy reading biographies. Th 2007 bookcrossing journal: I picked up quite an old paperback copy of this one second hand about six months ago. I saw the film "Miss Potter" last weekend and was spurred on to read her biography. The film was great, incidentally, although they did use a bit of artistic license on a few details of her life. This was a great biography, but I'm only giving it an eight. Because I do think it's going to have limited appeal. You've either got to be interested in Beatrix or enjoy reading biographies. The only major criticism I have of it (which might not even be relevant now as I have a very old edition), is that it needs more photographs, more of her illustrations, a time-line/chronology, and I think some maps would have been great too. I read her books when I was younger and I've visited Hill top farm twice - once when I was little (so I don't remember much about it!) and the second time was the summer 06. She is like a national treasure - her books are wonderful, and her later work and support of the National Trust has preserved so much that we can see today. I thought it was also interesting that even back then they were worried about developers buying up sections of land in order to build on them.A problem older than you might have thought.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Having grown up with Beatrix Potter's books, it was very interesting to learn more about her life and her personality. She was a person of quiet creativity, shy reserve, unpredictableness, deep love of animals, bluntness, love of the country, and great artistic gifts - just a person I would love to meet. Thankfully, although I will not be able to meet her in this life, this well-written biography by Margaret Lane gave me lots of glimpses into her intriguing life. It is not a comprehensive sketch Having grown up with Beatrix Potter's books, it was very interesting to learn more about her life and her personality. She was a person of quiet creativity, shy reserve, unpredictableness, deep love of animals, bluntness, love of the country, and great artistic gifts - just a person I would love to meet. Thankfully, although I will not be able to meet her in this life, this well-written biography by Margaret Lane gave me lots of glimpses into her intriguing life. It is not a comprehensive sketch of Beatrix, but still covers the main points well and is a pleasant read. It is amazing to me that Beatrix Potter sent Peter Rabbit to six (I believe) different publishing companies and all turned her down. She ended up publishing privately with modest success and finally convinced a publishing company to take the story on. Little did she know then how great a success her tales would be and would continue to be for many, many generations to come. And they're still going strong!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I have been reading a series of fictional tales, based on fact, about Potter and decided I wanted to read a bio to get her real story. Thanks to my small library's access to InterLibrary Loan, I had my choice of bios. I chose this one, written soon after her death and published by Warnes, her own publishers. I thought a later bio would be full of literary criticism of her writing and I just wanted a straighforward story of her life. This is what I got with this bio published in 1946. There was o I have been reading a series of fictional tales, based on fact, about Potter and decided I wanted to read a bio to get her real story. Thanks to my small library's access to InterLibrary Loan, I had my choice of bios. I chose this one, written soon after her death and published by Warnes, her own publishers. I thought a later bio would be full of literary criticism of her writing and I just wanted a straighforward story of her life. This is what I got with this bio published in 1946. There was one chapter about her books and their impact, and the rest was just about her life. It had a strange and solitary beginning, but a happy ending and this story was told with the help of her husband, William Heelis, and many contemporaries.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Absolutely lovely. I had the advantage of being able to consult our collection of Beatrix Potter's books while I was reading through her biography. Seeing the artwork and reading some of the stories at the same time they were being described in the book made it so enjoyable. I learned a ton, and Beatrix Potter certainly led an interesting life. A fun read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    The second biography I had read about Beatrix Potter, so no new huge revelations. This one was much less comprehensive and detailed, but I think I liked that it gave an intimate but broad view of her life. Lots of direct quotes of hers, excerpts of letters, and interviews with those who actually knew her as it was written not too long after her death, and published by the company who did her books. I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to know more about her without tons and tons of details.

  14. 5 out of 5

    The Mole

    Informative, but horribly dry and dull. I probably would have preferred a wikipedia page to this book. It tries to blend pure information with a somewhat artistic style, but both fall flat. The artistic style comes across more like mere listings of plants or places instead of giving the reader a real feel for the subject matter. Perhaps this was a popular writing style in the 1940s (as this was first published in 1946). Though considering the works of Tolkien and Lewis are also of this era, it's h Informative, but horribly dry and dull. I probably would have preferred a wikipedia page to this book. It tries to blend pure information with a somewhat artistic style, but both fall flat. The artistic style comes across more like mere listings of plants or places instead of giving the reader a real feel for the subject matter. Perhaps this was a popular writing style in the 1940s (as this was first published in 1946). Though considering the works of Tolkien and Lewis are also of this era, it's hard to completely think it's just "an older style of writing".

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nienke

    This not too long biography made for an interesting read. I already new bits and pieces about Beatrix Potter's live, but this book gave a nice overview and still supplied a lot more to know. It was a nice mix of quotes from letters, books and descriptive text. Just before the end the emphasis was a bit too much on the analysis of her writing, but then it continued with a description of her legacy in the Lake District, which formed a very nice ending.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    A sweet book with many color illustrations and black and white photos. But just a sketch really of Potter’s life. The basic facts, an idea of her personality, and a chronology of her works. Still, worth the time and, having just visited Hilltop Farm and the Lake District, I enjoyed the descriptions of that area.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    A sweet read, if rather old-fashioned in style. Lane makes Potter a very sympathetic character, and it's easy to become absorbed in her story, even though her life was not particularly eventful.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    A wonderful account of the life of Beatrix Potter.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    occasional beauty is due to the bloom of decay if the dead specimen were not passed skinning, they skinned it; if it were they busily boiled it and kept the bones

  20. 5 out of 5

    Manon

    I liked this book very much, In the middle a bit boring, but overall a perfect insight in the life of Beatrix Potter

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Read it two or three times.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Sweet little book. I loved that there is a complete reproduction of Potter's original "picture story letter" to Noel.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diane Anderson

    Miss Potter/Mrs. Heelis was very odd, quirky and incredibly talented. This is a fascinating, very well-written story of a very well known writer/artist who was, at the same time, very private and rather shy. I had no idea!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nevada Libert

    Great Biography! super nice and easy to understand.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    A thorough biography spanning Beatrix Potter's life -- from a depressively isolated Victorian childhood through her creatively-driven adulthood and, finally, her happy old age as a wife and farmer. The book offers an interesting look at the dysfunction of the wealthy middle class of the era, which is why Potter suffered "filial piety" so acutely. She desperately wanted to be married and, yet, her parents neither tried to set her up with a marriage nor approved of either of the suitors who did pr A thorough biography spanning Beatrix Potter's life -- from a depressively isolated Victorian childhood through her creatively-driven adulthood and, finally, her happy old age as a wife and farmer. The book offers an interesting look at the dysfunction of the wealthy middle class of the era, which is why Potter suffered "filial piety" so acutely. She desperately wanted to be married and, yet, her parents neither tried to set her up with a marriage nor approved of either of the suitors who did propose. Her belief that the domesticity provided by marriage is the highpoint of a woman's life is almost mocked by how her life turned out. Yet, her ideal is so clearly expressed through the wifeliness of so many of the characters in her books. But, much about Beatrix Potter nee Heelis is contradictory: For a woman with no real childhood, her works have captured the imaginations of generations of children. She had little formal art training and no formal schooling, but her books are considered examples of both artistic and written merit. She was thoroughly indoctrinated in Victorian middle class ideals, but ended up as a north country farmer. She was anti-feminist and anti-suffrage, yet had her own career and was politically active. She was quintessentially English, but much preferred her American fans. For me, the most interesting part of the biography was the latter part, which covered her married life (after she had stopped writing). When she got married, it was as if she shucked off "Miss Potter the children's' writer" and became "Mrs. Heelis the north country sheep farmer" almost overnight. I really enjoyed reading about her integration into the countryside, passion for Herdwick sheep, political activism (related to the lack of English toy manufacturers), and involvement in the conservation of the countryside through the National Trust -- all things I hadn't known about her life. The author uses a lot of Potter's own words (excerpts from correspondence with family, friends, children, admirers, etc.), which really give you a good feel for her character. I also truly enjoyed the all photos and reproductions. It was lovely to see some of her original drawings, as well as photos of her -- the proof of her happiness in old age clearly seen on her face. I'm sure that others could write much longer, more detailed biographies of Beatrix Potter. However, this was a great read that gave a nice overview of her life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy Keyishian

    Reading the Beatrix Potter books to my daughter, I got to wondering about her life (as I always do), so I hunted down this biography. Originally published just after Potter's death, it was updated when new info came to light, but it's still written in an old-fashioned style that can seem a bit fusty after a while. Still, the meat of the story is so compelling. Potter did not have an easy life, but she made the best of her circumstances, and was rewarded in the end. The books we love are the prod Reading the Beatrix Potter books to my daughter, I got to wondering about her life (as I always do), so I hunted down this biography. Originally published just after Potter's death, it was updated when new info came to light, but it's still written in an old-fashioned style that can seem a bit fusty after a while. Still, the meat of the story is so compelling. Potter did not have an easy life, but she made the best of her circumstances, and was rewarded in the end. The books we love are the product of what must have been the saddest, loneliest, most frustrating period of her young adulthood; once she was happier in her life, she stopped writing. This is not a tragedy; we have plenty of books to enjoy, and she had plenty of life to enjoy. There's something very satisfying about it. One thing that really struck me was a Mad Men-style look at the things that were perfectly normal to an earlier age. Her parents really expected her to *not* marry, to remain single and take care of them, and didn't give a blue-jacketed bunny if that left her lonely, bereft and unfulfilled. It's hard to imagine that kind of heartless cruelty, yet these were enlightened people who had smart and thoughtful friends. Go figure. A lot of this book is skimworthy. The author goes off on really dull tangents in which she explains why BP is so great (duh, I'm already reading about her, I KNOW she's an amazing artist who doesn't talk down to children because she considers herself an eternal child in many ways) and, more annoyingly, compares her unfavorably with other authors (that's just bitchy and unnecessary). Still, this was a necessary read for anyone who's pored over these illustrations and recited the stories almost by heart, yet wondered where they sprang from. Guess I have to watch the renee zellwegger movie now, too.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    Nice little book full of details about an almost "unchosen" artist's life - would it not for many circumstances in her life, she probably wouldn't have thought of being a professional artist/author at all - driven more to be a farmer and sheep breeder by nature, it seems, which is interesting. But the book's lack of psychological insight (which is what I thrive on) made it a bit slow going at times, and I also would have liked a little more information about the state of her family that kept her Nice little book full of details about an almost "unchosen" artist's life - would it not for many circumstances in her life, she probably wouldn't have thought of being a professional artist/author at all - driven more to be a farmer and sheep breeder by nature, it seems, which is interesting. But the book's lack of psychological insight (which is what I thrive on) made it a bit slow going at times, and I also would have liked a little more information about the state of her family that kept her at home with her parents until she was well into her forties - cultural context perhaps about Victorian mores, etc. esp in regards to women. For what it's worth, I was not brought up with her books, so I have no fond childhood memories of the drawings or stories. I remember it being on the shelf, and me thinking it was a little tame and uninteresting - maybe I came across them when I was a little too old to be enchanted. But then I never liked animals with rhyming names either. Hunca-Munca the mouse is all very well, but... anyway. The thing I liked the most was the evocation of the beauty of an English garden and farms in all weathers, and the lives of the animals within them. A little vacation in that way, and quite satisfying to my idea of peaceful, full time spent in nature.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This is a delightful biography of Beatrix Potter. My recent interest in Beatrix Potter stems from nostalgia of visiting The Lakes coupled with a longing and strong desire to visit again before too long. Beatrix Potter (later distinctly known as Mrs Heelis) was a woman that many should admire and, in some cases, should aspire to be more like. In her lifetime she contributed vastly to many distinct areas but is well remembered mainly as an author and artist of children's literature. Few know her a This is a delightful biography of Beatrix Potter. My recent interest in Beatrix Potter stems from nostalgia of visiting The Lakes coupled with a longing and strong desire to visit again before too long. Beatrix Potter (later distinctly known as Mrs Heelis) was a woman that many should admire and, in some cases, should aspire to be more like. In her lifetime she contributed vastly to many distinct areas but is well remembered mainly as an author and artist of children's literature. Few know her as a staunch conservationist, a mycologist, a farmer, an all-round business woman and (although a short lived foray) a political activist. These ventures are what make this book so great. Beatrix Potter achieved so much while maintaining a humbleness rarely appreciated, with the exceptions of biographical books such as this. This biography by Margaret Lane is nothing short of wonderful. There is a distinct delicacy and exquisiteness throughout this entire book that made it impossible for me to do nothing more than finish it in one sitting. It is written in a very respectful and loving manner that can only come from an author who clearly holds her subject in high regard. This biography is a favourite of mine even though I have finished it less than half an hour ago. This is a testament to Beatrix Potter's life and Margaret Lane's near perfect writing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This early biography of Beatrix Potter provides a short overview of her life and work. After a boring Victorian childhood and early womanhood, her children's books eventually led her to a happy marriage in her forties and life as a farmer in the Lake District. The book reveals that her first farm, Hilltop, was used as a background in Jemima Puddleduck, and the village of Sawrey was used as a background in Ginger and Pickles. Since those two stories are out of copyright, the books and illustratio This early biography of Beatrix Potter provides a short overview of her life and work. After a boring Victorian childhood and early womanhood, her children's books eventually led her to a happy marriage in her forties and life as a farmer in the Lake District. The book reveals that her first farm, Hilltop, was used as a background in Jemima Puddleduck, and the village of Sawrey was used as a background in Ginger and Pickles. Since those two stories are out of copyright, the books and illustrations are available online through Project Gutenberg, and studying the pictures allows one to see the town and country as Beatrix Potter did. They also brought back pleasant memories of a visit to Sawrey and Hilltop, with all Beatrix Potter's treasures still arranged the way she had them, the beautiful countryside, and a pub lunch in the dark interior of the Tower Arms (which is also pictured in one of her books.)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ismaa Khan

    If you know and love Beatrix Potter this is a must read. Excellently researched and lovingly written.Its interesting, gives beautiful background to her life and her stories. The times she lived in, her love of nature, her inspiration and imagination. Her childhood, her life as an artist and writer and eventually as a farmer. Did you know that? She went from city child to country farmer, with author/artist in between, how wonderful is that :) Its a great biography and in describing her life bring If you know and love Beatrix Potter this is a must read. Excellently researched and lovingly written.Its interesting, gives beautiful background to her life and her stories. The times she lived in, her love of nature, her inspiration and imagination. Her childhood, her life as an artist and writer and eventually as a farmer. Did you know that? She went from city child to country farmer, with author/artist in between, how wonderful is that :) Its a great biography and in describing her life brings out the beauty of her stories and her well loved characters. I'm going to collect them all :)

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