Spring Update on Beatrix Potter, Feminist Farmer

It’s been a busy year for Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail; Sony Picture’s feature-film adaptation based on Beatrix Potter’s stories has grossed over $300 million in ticket sales worldwide since its February box office debut. And it’s not the only Potter-related event this spring: an exhibit in England showcases the more feminist side of the author, while an auction of recently discovered letters proves once again the boundless interest in the lady of the Lake District. 

   

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Now through October 28, the Lake District’s Hawkshead Gallery is celebrating 100 years of female suffrage in the United Kingdom with an exhibition highlighting Potter’s original artwork, handwritten letters, and other personal items in The Right Sort of Woman. The show’s title comes from a letter Potter wrote to the Times in 1916 in which she extols the importance of employing women on farms. Though perhaps lesser-known today for her abilities as a successful businesswoman than for her beloved children’s books, various letters on display show her financial acumen had a decidedly feminist streak. One of Potter’s shepherds recalls how she never paid him directly, bringing his weekly wages to his wife instead.

  

Potter paraphernalia continues to do well at auction, too; five previously unknown letters written during World War II reveal the author’s frustration at a recent potato harvest and the perils of soil exhaustion in the face of widespread famine. The letters were consigned to Dawsons of Maidenhead and sold to a London-based buyer on February 28 for approximately $16,000.

  

That’ll buy a lot of lettuce.  

  

Image via Wikimedia

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