(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In her acknowledgments, Lane states that she interviewed those who had known Potter or worked with her, read letters to and from her, and analyzed the meanings of the journal entries that gave insight into early interests and, less often, feelings. In addition, she reviewed Potter’s books published in the years from 1901 to 1956, twelve years after her death. Her transcribed journal was published in 1966 and provided details of her life in late adolescence and young adulthood that were included in the revised edition. From these sources emerged a life that Lane judged to be “modest and unsensational,” an accurate but somehow incomplete appraisal.

The tale that Lane tells—of a shy but determined and imaginative girl and woman who achieved both world renown and personal happiness, in spite of the constraints placed upon her as a woman—has an undeniable appeal for young and old alike, much like Potter’s most popular stories.

Lane describes three major periods in Potter’s life: her life up to her middle teens, her life from her teens to her marriage, and her life thereafter. It is the author’s belief that the first was a preparatory period, the second a period in which personal unhappiness was accompanied by creative productivity, and the third a period of artistic decline related to physical failings and the freedom to indulge other interests.

The events and details of these periods unfold in chronological order, with...

(The entire section is 530 words.)