New 2018 exhibition 'The Right Sort of Woman'
To mark the 100th anniversary of the advent of female suffrage in the UK, our Beatrix Potter places in the Lake District, Hill Top and the Beatrix Potter Gallery, will be celebrating this remarkable lady’s influential position as a strong – and female – member of the Cumbrian community.
Featuring her original artwork, handwritten letters and personal items, the Beatrix Potter Gallery will showcase the exhibition, ‘The Right Sort of Woman’, which uncovers a lesser-known side to the well-loved children’s author. Visitors can discover why an upper middle class London lady fell in love with the simplicity, homeliness and rugged beauty of the Lake District and how she whole-heartedly embraced the difficulties life there dictated. Amongst other items, on display are original letters which help to explain her role in setting up district nursing and her position of influence as a local businesswoman and landlady.
'Women on the Land'
After becoming Mrs Heelis, Beatrix spent the last thirty years of her life amassing one of the largest estates in the Lake District. Unafraid to immerse herself in traditionally ‘male’ occupations, Beatrix was a shrewd and fair businesswoman who valued these strengths in other women. The title for the exhibition comes from a letter Beatrix wrote to The Times in 1916 on the subject of Women on the Land. In it, she discusses her determination to employ 'the right sort of woman' to work on her farms and the value and role of women in rural communities. Tant Benson, one of Beatrix’s shepherds, recalls how his wages were never paid directly to him...
" I was there 17 years and she never paid me once, she always gave the money to the missus. She would walk past you in the farmyard with the money in her hand."
A Lakeland legacy
With preservation of the Lake District always at the forefront of her mind, Beatrix not only had the opportunity but also the means to bring the landscape and its unique culture to a 'splendid reality'. Her wealth and influence allowed her to sidestep convention and, supported by her friend and National Trust founder, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, she assumed the role of land agent, managed farms and oversaw a variety of business ventures, but also acted as an advocate and fundraiser, believing the National Trust to be 'the only salvation for the Lake District.' To her great satisfaction she was able, through the success of her books, to protect huge areas of the Lakes and, thanks to the continued support of our visitors and members, we continue to enjoy her legacy to this day.
Don't miss the 100th birthday of Johnny Town-Mouse
In the centenary of female suffrage there is another cause for celebration at the Beatrix Potter Gallery; The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse is also 100 years old this year. Despite her social standing and city origins, Beatrix identified with Johnny’s country counterpart mouse, Timmy-Willie, and there will be exhibition space displaying illustrations from the book. Alongside mice, pigs, kittens and other original artwork visitors will have a rare opportunity to see Beatrix’s original letter detailing one of her most famous creations - The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
The exhibition runs every day from 10 February to 28 October 2018, we are open 10.30am-4pm.