Beatrix Potter was born on July 28, 1866 in South Kensington, London. She and her brother Bertram were raised, educated, and fed by a governess in an attic nursery. Beatrix’s grandmother lobbied for her to begin drawing lessons when she was twelve years old. Her art teacher, Miss Hammond, tweaked her observation skills with nature walks and visits to science museums. Beatrix also brought back small creatures from the family summer home to draw and keep her company.
She was encouraged by Bertram, who also grew up to be an artist, to submit her animal drawings and paintings to publishers. After some rejection, The Happy Pair, with drawings of Benjamin Bunny, was published in 1894, when she was 24 years old.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was originally written in a letter to entertain the five-year-old sickly child of Annie Moore, her dear friend and former teacher. Rejected by publishers, Beatrix self-published 250 copies. Frederick Warne & Company saw her book and offered to publish it with full-color illustrations in 1902. The company went on to publish her other works as well and Beatrix invested in Hill Top Farm in the Lake District with her earnings. Many of her later books are based in and around Hill Top.
Her cottage and surrounding lands were given to the National Trust upon her death in 1943 and have become one of the most popular literary shrines.