There are legendary people and enchanting events. We attach the adjective to someone well known for a craft: like English author Beatrix Potter, one of the earliest best-sellers of children’s stories. If her name is unfamiliar to you, how about the most famous book: “The Tale Of Peter Rabbit”? It surely rings a bell that rabbits are often called Peter and now you know why. We all grew up with this pet name association.
Some people miss the origin of legends we celebrate, like St. Patrick’s Day. It is enchanting to discover new ones: faded by time, or unknown after eluding the public eye. Have you ever heard of “May Eve“? Susan Wittig Albert mentions it in a fantastic series blending history with mystery. The protagonist happens to be Beatrix Potter, utilizing details and animals from her real life. Oddly, I don’t have her infamous books but am getting to know Beatrix through fiction.
I stumbled on “The Tale Of Hilltop Farm”, used. I am thrilled this compelling story continues and I get educated. I can tell you Beatrix was born July 28, 1866 to wealthy parents in London. She and her brother Bertram were conservationists and botanists, who visited Lake District as a family. A talented illustrator, Beatrix sketched their wonderful variety of pets, including beloved Belgian rabbit “Peter“. Tutored until age 16, her governess was a friend.
In 1893, she sent a story about Peter with drawings, to her governess’ son. Beatrix decided to do a self-printing in 1901, which attracted a publisher. The world renound story was released by Frederick Warne in 1902. Beatrix fell in love with co-owner Norman Warne, with whom she created several more stories. They got engaged but her life altered after he died from acute leukemia a month later. Beatrix remained close with Norman’s sister and their letters are historical artifacts.
Unmarried women stayed with their parents in 1905 but she was in a unique, successful position to buy her own home in Lake District. Imagine a lady, preferring country life and building a farm at the turn of the century. She and her pets commuted between London and Lake Windermere. It is this colourful side of the author’s life, that Susan Wittig Albert builds into her novels. Later than usual, Beatrix does marry. I won’t tell you with whom, in case you decide to read the cottage series and prefer to be surprised!
Book 3 introduces “May Eve“. For those curious to know if fairies exist, I read this is the date to venture into a forest and find out! Apparently, as “All Hallow’s Eve” is to “All Saint’s Day” (October 31 – November 1)… the line between the magical world and ours, is malleable. We’re able to cross it more easily. It has something to do with April 30 falling halfway between the spring and summer solstices.
Exactly a year ago, my fiance & I learned our apartment lease was closing. We scouted our first property and I started reading used book 1, which unexpectedly reflected back at me! I too was a city gal preparing for a new town. I travel with my pets, central to my life. Now having finished book 3, I can’t believe how closely its season matches mine, in real time!
It’s almost “May Eve” and I just happen to live in a forest…. This is too uncanny not to go give it a try. No, I don’t really expect to see a fairy. I think they are ficticious. But if you were me at the right time and place like this: wouldn’t you go and have a look?
For your pleasure, here are Susan’s cottage tales featuring Beatrix Potter:
“The Tale Of Hilltop Farm” (2004)
“The Tale Of Holly How” (2005)
“The Tale Of Cuckoo Brow Wood” (2006)
“The Tale Of Hawthorn House” (2007)
“The Tale Of Briar Bank” (2008)
“The Tale Of Applebeck Orchard” (2009)
“The Tale Of Oat Cake Crag” (2010)
“The Tale Of Castle Cottage” * Coming out September 2011!
My favourite site, where I get these novels is: http://www.bookdepository.com?a_aid=AlyshaeBorealis