Wednesday 25 September 2013

Beatrix Potter at the Armitt

Beatrix Potter aged 15 with her springer spaniel
Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) was one of the earliest members of the then Armitt Library in Ambleside founded in 1912. Seventy years after her death, the Armitt Museum and Library (in conjunction with the National Trust Archive, the Frederick Warne Archive and the Beatrix Potter Society) is celebrating its connection with Beatrix Potter through an exhibition in words and images on her life and work as well as on the people and places of the Lake District that were important to her. The exhibition is entitled, Image and reality. For further details visit or for a BBC Cumbria news item about the exhibition see

The famous and highly successful children's author had come to live at Hill Top Farm in the neighbouring village of Near Sawrey in 1905 soon after the death of Norman Warne to whom she had been betrothed. She had fallen in love with the Lake District during family holidays there and she now took the opportunity to help preserve local life and landscape. To this end she bought up surrounding farms and spent more and more of her time on estate management and rearing prize-winning sheep in partnership with a local solicitor, William Heelis (a founder member of the Armitt), whom she married in 1913. She also found time to produce new items based on her famous characters - Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, Samuel Whiskers and the rest. 

Beatrix Potter became one of the Armitt Library's greatest benefactors with the bequest of her botanical drawings, watercolours and personal copies of the first editions of her children's books. The botanical drawings included her beautiful and scientifically significant studies of fungi undertaken in the 1880s and 1890s.  On 24 April 2013, a distinguished audience at the Linnean Society in London heard Patricia Routledge, actress and president of the Beatrix Potter Society, pay tribute to the "wonderful collection of astonishing depictions of fungi" held by the Armitt. On that occasion, a young lady dressed as Beatrix Potter, read Miss Potter's paper On the germination of the spores of agaricineae: when originally presented in 1897, the society had insisted it be read by a man!

For further information take a look at:
Beatrix Potter and the Armitt  

Geoffrey Forster
25 September 2013 

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