Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature - A charming family adventure

22 March 2022

For all the family, Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature at the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington is the first exhibition to tell the life story of Beatrix Potter, one of the best loved 20th Century authors of children’s fiction. Not just a writer of stories, Beatrix was determined to gain success and respect in notoriously closed-off male dominated fields: from the field of science and mycology to the fells of Cumbria.

Playful and interactive, the exhibition invites visitors to rediscover and explore the breadth of her achievements and multifaceted life from storyteller to natural scientist and conservationist transporting them into the world of Beatrix Potter’s books and the Lake District. Over 240 personal objects include rarely seen letters, manuscripts, sketches, coded diaries, family photographs, examples of commercial merchandise and personal artefacts.

The exhibition celebrates her early talent for storytelling, her business acumen and her fascination with the scientific study of the natural world, as well as her passion for sheep farming and conservation – a legacy still felt today.

Following Beatrix’s journey from London to the Lake District, where she eventually settled the first section, Town and Country provides a backdrop of her childhood in London’s South Kensington; Under the Microscope highlights her interest in natural science; A Natural Storyteller reveals her almost accidental journey to becoming a best-selling author; and Living Nature follows her to the Lake District, celebrating her profound impact on the natural landscape.

Artworks from some of her most famous storybooks include The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck feature alongside sketches of the real-life animals, places, art and literature that inspired them. Beatrix’s passion for animals and the natural world, including her study of fungi and the legacy of her conservation work in the Lake District shows how her talent for making her characters real emerged from a long-standing curiosity for the small details of nature.

Things that could easily have led her down a different career path. Her story shows that through talent, passion and perseverance, life can take unexpected twists and turns where great things can grow from inconsequential beginnings.

The V&A holds the world's largest collection of Beatrix Potter objects, including drawings, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and related materials. This year Peter Rabbit, one of Beatrix’s classics, celebrates his 120th birthday with numerous activities planned including a picture book edition of the original classic tale.

The exhibition has been put on in junction with the National Trust who cares for the items and places which were special to Beatrix. From Hill Top, her traditional Lake District farmhouse filled with trinkets and furniture and still presented as it was in Beatrix’s lifetime, to the vast Monk Coniston estate and fourteen traditional Lakeland farms with their flocks of Herdwick sheep. Thanks to her pioneering conservation efforts and generous bequest of her homes, farms and land to the National Trust, her legacy of caring for the landscape, traditions and Lakeland way of life has been preserved.

The exhibition runs until 8 January, 2023. Booking essential.