In the UK, almost everyone has had a fairy tale book about Peter Rabbit in his childhood. Since the introduction of this intimate rabbit in China in 2004, Peter Rabbit and its friends have brought joy to countless children and even adults, but many Chinese readers may not know, its author, Beatrice. Porter (1866-1943) was an English writer, illustrator, and natural scientist. Her obsession with the natural sciences, her peculiar hobbies and her legendary experience eventually led her to paint Peter Rabbit. When the big chimney of the industrial revolution was reaching out to the blue sky of Britain, she created a world of Peter Rabbit through a rich imagination, combining various animals with British landscape and rural life. Throughout the centuries, Peter Rabbit has accompanied the beautiful childhood of hundreds of millions of children around the world.
There is often such a protagonist in Jane Austen’s novels: The girl of Zaihui secretly obeys under strict tutoring, but secretly writes a secret diary.
Beatrice Potter has a secret diary, from the age of 14 to 31, recording a long period of puberty.
Miss Porter’s childhood has no tragedy, but she lives a rare lonely life. She has never been to school, has no playmates, and probably never played a child’s game. Most of the time, she spent the night with her brother in the dark family classroom on the second floor of Bolton Garden.
As a child, Potter and his brother have the privilege of raising many small animals as pets. Under the extravagant but boring roof of Bolton Garden, they have been able to closely observe the small animals that they spend with each other for a long time. Potter spent a lot. Time to make complex sketches of animals and plants, the first two models are her pet rabbit. Her first rabbit was called Benjamin and liked buttered toast. Benjamin is followed by Peter, who will perform some small shows and Potter will take it with whatever he wants. This may be the earliest prototype of the Peter Rabbit series.
Miss Potter’s family is very rich. Father Rupert William Porter is a wealthy idler. Although he has a lawyer’s license, he spends most of his time in the gentleman’s club. This is a way for him to express his noble status. He is passionate about art collections and is an early photography enthusiast. Mother Helen Porter is the daughter of Manchester’s textile giant. After the marriage, London’s social circle became the focus of her life. There aren’t many complaints about her parents in her secret diary, more of a little girl’s nuanced observations and records of the world around her: animals, flowers, art exhibitions, museums, places she travels, and politics at family gatherings. , art and social gossip discussion.
The most touching part of her diary is the nostalgia for the grandmother’s old house, Camfield. The year she was born, my grandfather bought Camfield Manor. Her initial perception of the beauty of nature came from that house. Her diary is full of memories of birdsongs, flowers, farm animals, fresh milk, and warm eggs. She wrote: “The life of Camfield Manor is a perfect whole. Everything is like a part of an old pendulum, filled with the taste and safety of fresh hay, lazy richness.”
Miss Porter has a talent for painting since she was a child, and she has also received professional painting training with her tutor. When she was eight or nine years old, she had her favorite pet in her sketchbook. Rabbit Benjamin wore a jacket and a hat and scarf skating in the wind. Later, Benjamin appeared on a commercial Christmas card, earning the first manuscript fee for Miss Porter.
The famous pre-Raphaelite painter of the United Kingdom, John Everett Mire, is a friend of her father and often gives her some pointers on painting techniques. For Miss Potter, the painter’s warmest encouragement for her is: “Many people paint, but you know how to observe.”
Miss Porter has a strong sense of memory and memory for the surrounding environment, especially those that are easily forgotten or ignored. The house she lived in, even the tiniest details, such as the texture of the old furniture, the shape of the stairs, and the layout of the room, left a strong impression on her mind and was put on paper by continuous sketching.
She especially likes the garden. Before her rabbit dressed in her clothes, she painted many rabbits in the garden. In 1891, she drew a pen sketch “Bunny’s Garden”, when their family was on vacation in the Lake District, Benjamin was eating geranium in a clay pot, next to a bunch of gardening tools: scorpion, hoe, broom, shovel, fork, There is also a huge watering can. Later, these were moved to McGregor’s vegetable garden, the eternal adventure paradise of the rabbits.
“I have a crazy urge to copy all the beautiful things that touch my eyes. Why can’t I just be content to look at it? I can’t, I have to draw it, no matter how bad the results are.”
Her father indulges her daughter’s artistic interest and often takes her to visit various art exhibitions of the Royal Society, especially the exhibition of Randolph Cadillac. Cadillac was the most famous children’s illustrator in Britain at the time (now the highest award for international picture books, the “Cadick Award” is named after him).
Scotland is a holiday destination for the Potter family during the summer vacation, and they spent eleven short summers in the manor. Every summer between 1871 and 1881, the Potter family came here to escape the dust of London’s summer and the health hazards that followed. In these places, they can freely explore and play in the farmland and woods of the manor without having to obey the rigid and strict rules of the London family. It was this annual vacation that enabled Potter to release the repressed energy and light the heart of a girl who loves fantasy.
In the summer of 1882, the 16-year-old Potter moved with his family to Frey Castle in Cumbria. The castle is located on the north side of the beautiful Lake District and has several miles of shoreline. In the high castle, the beautiful scenery of the Lake District can be seen.
Potter’s heart was filled with a mood, and he wanted to tell his friends about the story of the endless lake light and the little animals that jumped, so she found it in the family communication with Anne Moore, the last tutor of youth. Great joy. In the process of writing letters to the children of Anne’s family, she wrote some stories and painted smart illustrations to make these stories exude magical charm. In September 1893, when Potter was on vacation, he wrote a letter to Anne’s eldest son, Noel. In the letter, she told him a story about the “four little rabbits.” Anne Moore suggested that Porter adapt the story in this letter to a storybook suitable for children to read and publish. So Porter borrowed his letter, re-created it, and took a new name, “The Story of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGuire’s Garden,” and sent it to six publishers.
“September 4, 1893
I don’t know what to write for you, so I will tell you a story about four bunny. Their names are Flop, Mopt, cotton ball, and Peter…”
However, unfortunately, all six publishers sent back the rejection letter. But Potter did not give up. In 1901, she printed 250 volumes of “The Story of Peter Rabbit” with her own money and sold it quickly. In October 1902, Vaughan signed Porter and re-published The Story of Peter Rabbit, which achieved great success beyond everyone’s expectations. In just two months, this small book printed 28,000 copies and sold out quickly.
What is special about Miss Porter is that, because of her training as a naturalist, her fantasies are deeply rooted in the facts – depicting the animals, plants, gardens and woods in the story with a scientific precision.
Since childhood, Miss Porter has observed how rabbits run, how to sleep, how to use their mouths and claws, how to clean themselves; analyze their bone structure and muscle movement during attack and withdrawal… Miss Potter likes to wear animals “Funny clothes: Put on the clogs for the rabbits working in the field, put a white hat on the laundry woman’s hedgehog, put on a striped petticoat and a big apron, and put a green tuxedo on the fox.”
However, her attitude towards animals is not so sentimental. If her little pet is unfortunately dead, she will not bury it in tears, but will immediately experiment. She is an outstanding anatomist. In her sketches, she saved the dead thrush, the anatomy of the spider, the wings of the insect, and the leg hair of the beetle. She and her brother used to cook a dead fox in order to get its bones. She can’t tolerate sentimentality. In private, she despised Kenneth Graham for letting his sister-in-law comb. On one occasion, she sent the editor a picture of Peter Rabbit dancing with her hind legs, and immediately regretted it. Afterwards, she called it a “stupid, jumping rabbit.”
The animals she writes must be true and precise in every detail—not only in terms of personality and behavior, but even in anatomical construction.
In 1943, Porter died of pneumonia at the age of 77. She dedicated her life’s accumulation to the National Trust, including more than 4,000 acres of farmland, and the farms she lived in during her lifetime, as well as her favorite sheep and pets.