English author Helen Beatrix Potter was a popular and prolific children's writer. Potter wrote and illustrated about 28 books, all with animals as characters. The most famous of her stories is The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), which Potter had originally written for the ailing son of her ex-governess. Its success inspired more books, including The Tailor of Gloucester (1903), The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904), and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908). Potter combined her understanding of children, her talents as an artist, and her interests as a naturalist to create books that have won audiences for more than a century. The original illustrations for all of her works are now featured in the Tate Galleries in London.
Potter was born on July 28, 1866, and she was the child of a genteel upper-middle-class family. She spent a lonely and restricted childhood in London. This isolation was alleviated only by her summers painting and drawing in the countryside in Scotland and in her beloved Lake District of northwestern England. Returning to the Lake District as an adult, Potter bought several farms in Sawrey, where she became a sheep farmer. She willed more than 4,000 acres of her land to the National Trust upon her death on Dec. 22, 1943.