(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Most readers need no introduction to Beatrix Potter's nursery classics, which include The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (1903), The Tailor of Gloucester (1903), The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904), The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle (1905), The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907), and Ginger and Pickles (1909). These books have become a well established part of the common culture. But few readers are familiar with the intriguing life of the woman who wrote and illustrated these books.

Lane's biography, begun shortly after Potter's death in 1943 at the age of 77, was the first and in some ways remains the best. Born into the deep conservatism of the Victorian middle class, Potter lived to see an almost modern assertion of the strength and capability of women in a masculine world. During her life, she fought against incredible obstacles to become economically independent and to free herself from demanding and rigid parents. Her small books, composed almost on the sly, were an important part of this struggle.

The Tale of Beatrix Potter is not written specifically for young readers, but readers of all ages have read and enjoyed this account of an extraordinary person. To some, her life may appear to have been excessively conservative. She was an exaggeratedly obedient daughter whose only open rebellion against her parents occurred when she married—at age forty-seven—a country...

(The entire section is 474 words.)