Today is Beatrix Potter’s birthday, and that means it’s time to break out her books and celebrate—at least in my world! Beatrix Potter has long (and I do mean long) held a special place in my heart.
Strangely enough, this place was not reserved when I was four or five. My love for her came just a hair later, in second or third grade I think, when I read a short biography of her in my reading textbook at school. I was fascinated. I was hooked. But up until then, I only knew The Tale of Peter Rabbit. And I wanted more.
Enter my mother, the person who single-handedly fed my obsession with literature as a child and encouraged my love of reading at every possible turn. She bought me copies of Beatrix’s little gems of books. Single copies, small collections of them—one by one, they made their way into my collection. Then came the tiny porcelain figurines of Peter and Benjamin Bunny, Hunca Munca rocking her babies in a tiny, stolen cradle, and musical Mr. Jeremy Fisher who held his fishing rod in front of an open book and played “Getting to Know You” in perfect music box notes.
I loved her artwork, and loved that such dainty little watercolors could dare to exist side-by-side with such stories of mayhem. My favorite was always The Tale of Two Bad Mice, but right behind that were Peter and Benjamin, Tom Kitten and Jemima Puddleduck, Mrs. Tiggy Winkle and Squirrel Nutkin. To this day, the literary pilgrimage I’d most like to take is to Beatrix Potter’s house in the Lakes District.
Throughout my entire life I’ve had literally obsessions large and small, but Beatrix Potter was my first and my most enduring. Which means that today, I’ll read through her books again, perhaps with a cup of tea in hand, and enjoy all the goodness (and madness) of them.
Happy birthday, Beatrix Potter!