The creatures, the countryside and its enchanting details, the smell of the palette – by and large, this jigsaw of childhood experiences pieces together Beatrix Potter’s early adult portrait. That same leaning toward science that she practised in dissections and anatomical drawings, also led her into botany; look at the rich and accurate flora alongside her rabbits and pigs and foxes.
Several years ago, an Irish agricultural scientist, Fionnbhar O’Riordain, alerted me to the game of finding where mushrooms appear in Beatrix Potter, because she had served a self-taught but distinguished apprenticeship to mycology. He described her botanical work as “brilliant,” and authenticated his faith in her by making slides of her drawings.
A study of Hygrophorus puniceus, one of the many watercolours of mushrooms created by Potter and now residing at the Armitt Musuem – Source (NB: no indication of license on digital copy)
At 31 years of age, she had submitted a scientific paper to the respected Linnean Society in London. The Society’s practice was to have its papers read aloud by other than the…