Before Beatrix Potter's classic book The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published in 1902, the British writer and illustrator studied fungi at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, publishing hundreds of botanical drawings that depicted their cultivation and growth cycles. Her parents had always encouraged artistic expression, and from an early age, Beatrix Potter and her brother delighted in making sketches of small animals in the countryside, as well as of their own pet rabbits.
From bunnies to fungi, and back again:
- Potter’s first pet rabbit was Benjamin Bouncer, who loved buttered toast and was her constant companion. Bunny No. 2 was Peter Piper, who could perform a number of tricks.
- At age 30, Beatrix Potter developed a new theory about the reproduction of fungi spores and authored a significant paper entitled “On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae.”
- After The Tale of Peter Rabbit was rejected by publishers, Potter printed the book herself and gave 250 copies to friends and family. Frederick Warne & Co eventually accepted the book for publication, and it soon became a best-seller and children's classic.