This Beautiful Beatrix Potter Exhibition Tells The Story Of The Beloved Children's Author

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This Beautiful Beatrix Potter Exhibition Tells The Story Of The Beloved Children's Author

This is a sponsored article on behalf of the V&A.

Soft toy, mohair, felt and glass, 'Jemima Puddle Duck', made by J K Farnell & Co Ltd, England, ca. 1925. Courtesy of Frederick Warne & Co.

"Once upon a time there were four little rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter."

If that line fires up a childhood memory for you, you need to get yourself to the V&A Museum, which currently has a whole exhibition dedicated to one of the world's most famous children's authors. It was curated in collaboration with the National Trust, and it's had four-star reviews from both the Telegraph and the Times.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature tells the story of Beatrix Potter, from her early life in South Kensington, to her almost accidental journey to becoming a published author, and her later years spent among the nature and beauty of the Lake District.

Mrs Rabbit pouring tea for Peter for The tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, 1902. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, courtesy Frederick Warne & Co Ltd.

Over 200 of her personal objects are on display, including letters, artworks, manuscripts and family photographs, many of which have never been shown in public before. A 1901 sketch for a privately printed edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a highlight, along with early artworks from The Tailor of Gloucester, The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck, and The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.

Picture letter to Walter Gaddum about rabbit, owl and squirrel by Beatrix Potter. 6 March 1897. Linder Bequest © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Potter's characters are only part of the exhibition though. Rarely seen photos of her as a child, and as a 15 year old with her dog, Spot, taken from the family photo album, can be seen, along with clogs once worn by the author.

Family photograph album with photographs by Rupert Potter, dated 1868–86 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Though she's best remembered for her charming animal characters, Potter was also a keen scientist and conservationist with a passion for sheep farming — another photo shows her at age 64, posing with her prize-winning ewe. Some of her scientific sketches, created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are also on show in the exhibition — from detailed studies of ground beetles, to sketches of her garden and views of the Lakes.

The interactive exhibition also displays commercial merchandise relating to Potter's characters. A soft toy of Jemima Puddle Duck, made from mohair, felt and glass by British toy company J K Farnell & Co Ltd in 1925 is in remarkably good condition.

©  Victoria and Albert Museum, London

For anyone who grew up with Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle Duck and co — as well as anyone looking forward to reading the stories with their own children — Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature is an absolute must.

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature is at The V&A, South Kensington, until 8 January 2023. Tickets are £14, advance booking recommended.

Last Updated 04 October 2022