Beatrix Potter, the writer of one of the most famous children’s books of all time, was greatly influenced by the long summer’s holidays she spent in Perthshire in her youth. She was fascinated by the natural world and was a talented artist from childhood.
It was from Eastwood House, Dunkeld that on September 4th 1893, she wrote her now famous picture letter to Noel Moore that later became her first book ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ published in 1902. The following day she wrote another letter to Noel’s brother Eric, about a frog called ‘Jeremy Fisher’.
Her 1905 tale ‘Mrs Tiggy Winkle’ was certainly inspired by the Potters’ old washer woman at Dalguise, Kitty MacDonald.
(Note; Eastwood house is private and not open to the public, but can be viewed across the River Tay from the riverbank below the Birnam Oak.)
Beatrix spent many happy hours exploring the local countryside and its influences can be seen in many of her books and paintings. Her interest in the natural world was also very scientific and in particular ferns, mosses and especially fungi became subjects of her art and study
During her time in the area she formed a special friendship with Charles Macintosh, the Perthshire Naturalist. Charles born in 1839, had become a postman for the Dalguise Postal District, his long daily walks delivering the mail allowing him to study local flora and fauna. Beatrix and Charles had a mutual interest in mycology, the study of fungi which brought them together. This led to a long correspondence, Charles even sending down to London by train, specimens he’d collected in the local woods for her to paint.
Visit The Birnam Institute (www.birnaminstitute.com) to see an exhibition telling the fascinating story of Beatrix Potter’s holidays in Scotland.