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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Recent film sheds light on the life of Peter Rabbit author, Beatrix Potter

Harry may be the most famous Potter out of England, but he's not the first Potter all the kids went crazy for. The first literary Potter was not a character, but an author. Beatrix Potter was famous for authoring and illustrating a collection of stories about Peter Rabbit. Recently, Potter's life was deemed interesting enough to garner a major motion picture and RenAce Zellweger's British accent for the film, ""Miss Potter."" 


The movie focuses on the more Hollywood part of Potter's life, the love story between the author and her publisher, Norman Warne. (Who I am sure was as dashingly handsome as Ewan McGregor). Unfortunately, the complexity of Potter's life, not only as a writer but as a woman in the repressive era of Victorian England, will remain unknown to most moviegoers. 


Potter had no plans to go into writing and was only diverted by the limitations of her gender. Her parents discouraged all academic aspirations and forced her to ""supervise"" the household by the time she was 15 years old. 


Potter, however, was too gifted to be satisfied with playing house. Beyond the common make up of the writer, she possessed an immense talent for science. Potter kept a heavily encrypted journal of her studies that took years to sufficiently decode. The journal, along with several papers she wrote, possessed her observations and drawings of microscopic plant life.  


A great deal of her work was groundbreaking for its time. Despite the brilliance of Potter's independent studies, she was banned from several English societies and schools. The importance of her discoveries could not undermine the rigid expectations affixed to her femininity. 


Yet Potter seems to have possessed a mysterious British resilience comparable to rehab resurrections of Keith Richards and Pete Doherty. She took the early drawings of her childhood, which depicted a plethora of pets including rabbits, a bat, newts, frogs and a hedgehog, and turned them into a series of stories, first set to print in 1902. 


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The stories won Potter immense fame, though her original publishers, including her future fiancAc, expected dismal profits from the stories. She was 36 years old when she finally succeeded. She continued to write for about 30 years, and stopped only when she went blind. 


After Potter made a few bags of her own dough, she moved out to the country and gradually acquired more than 4000 acres of farmland. When she died, all the land was left to be preserved and protected. 


Ol' Bea was a woman to be reckoned with. She had a clever, determined mind that managed to work well with her own whimsical spirit. I'm glad to see her grit inspire the movie biz, where most muses bear a striking resemblance to the plastic nature of personalities like the countess of consumerism, Paris Hilton. She worked against society but with improvement in mind. Hopefully, it will remind parents and children of the kind of literature and figure that stands the test of time and deserves recognition. 


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