The Tale of Beatrix Potter Overview

Margaret Lane
This Study Guide consists of approximately 32 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Tale of Beatrix Potter.
This section contains 484 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Tale of Beatrix Potter Summary & Study Guide Description

The Tale of Beatrix Potter Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Study and a Free Quiz on The Tale of Beatrix Potter by Margaret Lane.

Most readers need no introduction to Beatrix Potter's nursery classics, which include The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (1903), The Tailor of Gloucester (1903), The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904), The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle (1905), The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907), and Ginger and Pickles (1909). These books have become a wellestablished part of the common culture.

But few readers are familiar with the intriguing life of the woman who wrote and illustrated these books.

Lane's biography, begun shortly after Potter's death in 1943 at the age of 77, was the first and in some ways remains the best. Bom into the deep conservatism of the Victorian middle class, Potter lived to see an almost modern assertion of the strength and capability of women in a masculine world. During her life, she fought against incredible obstacles to become economically independent and to free herself from demanding and rigid parents. Her small books, composed almost on the sly, were an important part of this struggle.

The Tale of Beatrix Potter is not written specifically for young readers, but readers of all ages have read and enjoyed this account of an extraordinary person.

To some, her life may appear to have been excessively conservative. She was an exaggeratedly obedient daughter whose only open rebellion against her parents occurred when she married—at age forty-seven—a country solicitor and real estate agent. She was exceedingly shy and very private, but her interior life brimmed with humor, conflict, and even adventure.

Potter was never sent to school, was never permitted playmates, and very rarely participated in the social life of her parents, yet she grew neither sullen nor bored. Resourceful, intelligent, and creative, she developed interests that helped her combat the loneliness of her home environment. She taught herself to draw and enjoyed capturing precise details. She investigated natural history with astonishing care and accuracy, collecting all sorts of things and sneaking them back into the house for further study.

Later, she wrote and published her "little books" and thrived on the details of business—something women were not supposed to do, and something her parents made every effort to stop. For each book she painstakingly matched every illustration with a real place or animal. By now she kept a veritable zoo of mice, hedgehogs, rabbits, snails, and ravens.

As she grew up, she did manage to make friends, although her parents' unrelenting views of propriety constantly stunted her social life. Not until late middle age did she ease her way out of London and away from her parents. She displayed a combination of great courage and incredible timidity, as she continued her role of dutiful daughter while building up an independent income and managing a successful farm and sheep breeding operation. When she died she left thousands of acres of land in the Lake District to the National Trust, a private land preservation group.

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This section contains 484 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Tale of Beatrix Potter Study Guide
The Tale of Beatrix Potter from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.