Beyond Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter's Inspiration

Beatrix Potter as an older woman in the Hill Top garden with one of her sheepdogs

This year we’re celebrating the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth by exploring the inspiration she took from her enduring friendship with Canon Rawnsley.

The origins of the tale of Peter Rabbit

Did you know that if it wasn’t for Canon Rawnsley, you may never have heard of Peter Rabbit? The tale of Peter Rabbit started out an illustrated letter, but Canon Rawnsley saw promise in it and encouraged Beatrix Potter to get her tale published. He even tried to help when she was struggling to find a willing publisher by re-writing her story in-verse.

Potter and Rawnsley – defenders of the Lakes

In 1882, the young Beatrix Potter holidayed in nearby Wray Castle with her parents. They entertained many eminent guests, including Canon Rawnsley. His views on preserving the natural beauty of Lake District had a lasting effect on Potter, who was already taken with the area. He was the ‘defender of the Lakes’ and an authority figure of an entirely different sort to her parents. 

Potter became a disciple of the land conservation and preservation ideals of her long-time friend and mentor and she supported the efforts of the National Trust to preserve not just the places of extraordinary beauty but also those heads of valleys and low grazing lands that would be irreparably ruined by development. Their shared legacy has played a huge part in shaping the Lake District that we know and love today.

You can find out more by visiting us anytime this year or coming along to one of our scheduled activities.