Saturday, March 1, 2014

It Just Isn't Respectable!

Last weekend, I watched the movie "Miss Potter" starring Rene Zellweger, a delightful telling of Beatrix Potter's life that I missed somehow when it was released in 2007. (I recommend it highly, by the way.)

Beatrix struggled against the skepticism of her mother, who believed she ought to marry as any other proper young Edwardian lady rather than wasting time with watercolors and silly children's stories. But Beatrix did not relent. Eventually, she found a publisher who accepted her "Tale of Peter Rabbit"--not because he thought it would sell, but perhaps it would occupy his younger brother who kept pestering him for a role in the family business. (If the book failed, all the better. His irrepressible brother would give up the dream of being a publisher and let them get back to serious publishing.)

But Beatrix's parents and Warne's brother were dead wrong. Children loved Peter Rabbit and soon that little storybook became a best-seller. In fact, the best-selling book of the publishing house. Make that the best-selling children's book of all time.

Eventually, Beatrix grew so weary of her mother's domineering attitude that she asked her banker whether she had enough money to buy a house of her own. "My dear Miss Potter," said he, "not only do you have enough money to buy a house. You could buy an estate. Several estates. In fact, you have enough money to last the rest of your life."

(Imagine yourself in her place. Feels good, doesn't it?)

When movers came to carry Beatrix's belongings out of her parents' home, her mother laughed derisively. "How could you possibly afford to live on your own?" she cried.

"Mother, I am an author. People pay for my work," Beatrix replied.

"Dear, Beatrix is famous," Mr. Potter whispered. "The only person in the world who doesn't know it is you!"

Who says that you're wasting time on stories when you could do something "respectable"? Their scornful comments may seem perfectly reasonable now, but...oh, let them say what they will. You know what you must do.


  1. That's a fun story to hear, Joe. I haven't yet seen the movie either. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I also missed the movie and it's on my "bucket list," even more so now after reading this great piece by you, Joe! Thanks! :-)

  3. I'm going to watch it. How bittersweet that moment of triumph must have been for Bea. So glad her father stuck up for her anyway. I'm sure we'd all like a banker to tell us we're set for life, but oh the heartache and work that preceded it.