A cherished collection of authors and artists put The Lake District and Cumbria firmly on the map - and have inspired generations ever since.
Many of them also influenced our choice of names for the beautiful villas we built at Scalesceugh.
So we wanted to pay our own tribute to the creative talents who have touched the lives of millions at home and around the world.
So let’s introduce them all, in case you’re not aware of all the great works they achieved - Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred Wainwright and Arthur Ransome.
We will look at how their influence is still enormously relevant today, with everything from new Hollywood films to new major Lakeland tourist attractions being opened in their names.
Named After: Beatrix Potter, author and artist
Helen Beatrix Potter - known as Beatrix - is famed the world over for her beautifully illustrated children’s stories, most of them based in The Lake District around her homes, and none more famous than The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Beatrix was born in 1866 in London and was encouraged to draw from an early age. She never went to school but her parents employed an art teacher.
In summers, her family would travel north to spend a few months in Scotland. However, when Beatrix was 16, the family decided instead to stay at Wray Castle, overlooking Lake Windermere.
This was where Beatrix fell in love with the countryside and creatures of the Lake District.
Peter Rabbit was one of Beatrix’s earlier characters, and came from an illustrated letter sent to a friend’s son. After being rejected by several publishers, Beatrix self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit, printing 250 copies in 1901 for her friends and family.
Publishers Frederick Warne & Co quickly realised that they had made the wrong decision in turning her down, and the rest is now legendary, with all of Beatrix’s delightful books becoming best sellers.
Beatrix was also ahead of her time in terms of licensing her creations and providing merchandise.
Today, the whole of Cumbria, the UK and many bookshops and toy shops around the world sell her stories and cuddly toy characters, but Beatrix herself designed and created the first Peter Rabbit doll back in 1903, and registered it at the patent office.
That visionary action makes Peter Rabbit the world’s oldest licensed literary character. And Beatrix didn’t end there. She went on to invent a Peter Rabbit board game, create colouring books, a tea set, slippers and more.
She would no doubt be proud today, to walk through the towns and villages in which she grew up, and see so much variety of merchandise on offer related to her stories.
Have a look at the Beatrix Potter shop in Bowness-on-Windermere here.
The money Beatrix made from her books allowed her to invest in farmland. Most famously, she bought Hill Top Farm at Near Sawrey, close to Lake Windermere, which featured in many of her tales and is now an extremely popular tourist attraction.
Beatrix married local solicitor William Heelis in 1913, and they lived at Castle Cottage, Sawrey until her death in 1943.
What has been Beatrix Potter’s legacy?
Beatrix left 15 farms and more than 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust, for which she was a devoted supporter.
She is credited with preserving much of the land that now makes up the Lake District National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hill Top Farm, on Beatrix’s orders, was kept exactly as it had been when she lived there. Today it welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year.
As for Beatrix Potter books, more than two million are sold across the world every year, and have been translated into many languages.
Her stories have been celebrated and retold in film, animation, song and ballet.
Most notably, the 2006 film Miss Potter starred Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor and Emily Watson and focused on Beatrix’s early career and romance with her editor Norman Warne. Sadly, Norman died a month after proposing to her.
The BBC produced a dramatisation of her life - The Tale of Beatrix Potter - and a delightful animated series, The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends was introduced by Niamh Cusack as Beatrix.
Today’s children still enjoy animated adventures, with a new set of stories based on Beatrix’s books and characters being a popular fixture on kids’ TV channel CBeebies.
Hollywood got involved on a major scale when in 2018, Columbia Pictures released Peter Rabbit, a live-CGI mix which was so popular, it spawned a sequel.
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is scheduled to be released on April 3, 2020 and stars the voice of James Corden as Peter Rabbit, plus Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki and Margot Robbie as some of Beatrix’s most loved characters. Live action roles are played by Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and David Oyelowo.
A truly modern take on her work, as you can see from this trailer