A Victorian Childhood: Beatrix Potter’s Garden

Benjamin Bunny - Copyright Frederick Warne & Co, 2004

Benjamin Bunny
© Copyright Frederick Warne & Co, 2004

Beatrix Potter was born into a typically middle class Victorian family. She was born on 28 July 1866. It was a time when people believed children should be seen and not heard. She saw her parents only briefly every day.

Beatrix did not go to school but was educated at home by a governess. Her mother never allowed her to play with other children for fear that she would pick up germs. Beatrix spent most of the day alone, upstairs in her schoolroom. This gave her plenty of time for her favourite hobbies, drawing and painting. She even kept pets - like bats and lizards - up there, unknown to her parents.

In 1881 Beatrix Potter began to keep a journal, to record the events of the day and her thoughts and feelings. To keep the journal private, she used a secret code which she invented. She kept the journal for 16 years, until she reached the age of 30. The contents remained a mystery until 1958 when Leslie Linder, the first serious researcher into Beatrix’s life, cracked the code.