A privileged though solitary upbringing prompted Beatrix Potter’s fascination with wildlife. Born in London to wealthy parents in 1866, long family excursions to Dalguise House in the Scottish town of Perthshire proved particularly influential on the young naturalist, who spent the seasons sketching local flora and fauna.
Potter’s “picture letters” — manuscripts written to the children of friends of family, accompanied by endearing illustrations of woodland creatures — are considered early drafts of her famous books The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher, and The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, who was purportedly based on a washerwoman named Kitty MacDonald who worked for the Potters at Dalguise.
Just five miles away from where the Potters summered, sculptures of all three characters likewise inhabit the Beatrix Potter Garden in the center of Birnam in Perthshire. Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny (named after Potter’s childhood rabbits) welcome visitors through manicured pathways to a central pavilion housing information about the illustrator, author, and national treasure that is Beatrix Potter. Mr. Tod the fox slinks towards his wooden hut, while Mr. Jeremy Fisher the toad can be found contemplating by the garden’s tranquil pond.
The neighboring Birnam Arts & Conference Centre houses a permanent Beatrix Potter Exhibition with artifacts and more information about Beatrix Potter’s forest friends. Potter’s parents were avid supporters of the center (formerly the Birnam Institute), which first opened in 1883.
Know Before You Go
The Beatrix Potter Exhibition is open daily from 10am until 4:30pm. Visitors are advised not to come later than 4pm for same-day admission.
The shop at the exhibition has a range of Beatrix Potter goods for sale, including lots of cute plush toys of the main characters.