Beatrix Potter is one of the world's bestselling, most cherished authors, whose books have enchanted generations of children for over a hundred years. Yet how she achieved this legendary status is just one of several stories of her remarkable and unexpected life.
Inspired by the twenty-three 'tales', Matthew Dennison takes a selection of quotations from Potter's stories and uses them to explore her multi-faceted life and character: repressed Victorian daughter; thwarted lover; artistic genius; formidable countrywoman. They chart her transformation from a young girl with a love of animals and fairy tales into a bestselling author and canny businesswoman, so deeply unusual for the Victorian era in which she grew up.
Embellished with photographs of Potter's life and her own illustrations, this biography will delight anyone who has been touched by Beatrix Potter's work.
Matthew Dennison is the author of five critically acclaimed works of non-fiction, including Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West, a Book of the Year in The Times, Spectator, Independent and Observer. He is a contributor to Country Life and lives in the United Kingdom.
"[Potter is] arguably the most popular English children’s book author of all time, and the subject of Matthew Dennison’s excellent short biography. The book is concise, brisk, and consistently interesting, offering just enough detail for most readers."
– Michael Dirda, Barnes & Noble Review
"Dennison is the latest to turn the story of Beatrix Potter herself into a book. Indeed, Ms. Potter’s extraordinary life makes for an absorbing tale. Dennison ably tells about Potter’s cloistered childhood; about her determination to get published, and about her marriage to an attorney. Readers feel her passion for England’s beautiful Lake District, which became her home. There is much to like about Dennison’s version of Potter’s life. Dennison skillfully weaves Beatrix’s stories into every part of her narrative."
– Christian Science Monitor
"In a concise but revealing biography, Dennison brings [Potter’s] years to life with empathy and understanding. With perception of thought, elegance of prose and love of subject, Dennison studies the woman and her work, and in so doing gives devotees of both ample reason to delight in her—and his—work."
– Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Lively and succinct. Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with Peter Rabbit and his friends should be intrigued to view them as the means by which Potter found her way out into the wider world."
"Potter described her stories as giving 'pleasure without ugliness.' The same can be said of this respectful biography."
– Kirkus Reviews
"Dennison makes strong connections between Potter’s life and themes in classic [Potter] titles. As an introduction to the life of Beatrix Potter, Dennison’s telling is more than adequate."
– Publishers Weekly
"In exploring the life of Beatrix Potter, Dennison combines literary criticism with biography. Dennison writes a concise summary of Potter’s inspirations and legacy."