Beatrix Potter - the unknown years Find!
Reading the blog about Harriet Martineau and her connection with the Armitt Collection reminded me of the other treasures there, Beatrix Potter's paintings of fungi. While Beatrix Potter is well known for her children's books it is not generally known that in her younger days she had an interest in fungi which grew into full-scale scientific research. Her first studies of fungi are dated 1888 and she went on to produce almost three hundred water colours which she bequeathed to the Armitt Library and Museum in Ambleside.
During her family holidays in Dunkeld, Beatrix had met Charles McIntosh, the local postman and amateur naturalist whose expertise was acknowledged when he was invited to become an Associate Member of the Perthshire Society for Natural Sciences. In 1892, Beatrix was able to show Charles some of her drawings which he was able to identify, and after she returned to London they corresponded (in the third person!) and exchanged specimens and drawings.
In 1896 the Potter family stayed in Lakefield on Esthwaite Water for their summer holiday and while there she wrote in her journal that she had 'had further ideas about fungi. It stands to reason, all such as grow on fresh manure for a few weeks in summer must have some other form to take them over the winter months. I think that may be why different Boleti have different moulds, not parasitical but their own spore. I think all the higher fungi have probably a mould,' What Beatrix called a 'mould' was the underground threads or mycelium from which the toadstool is produced. She eventually succeeded in growing mycelium from fungus spores and discussed the results with her uncle Sir Henry Roscoe, the eminent chemist. He took her to meet the botanist William Thistleton-Dyer, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. He dismissed her work out of hand and Beatrix told him 'it would all be in the books in 10 years time whether or no'. He then complained to her uncle about her effrontery.
She wrote a paper about her work 'On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricinaea' which was read at a meeting of the Linnean Society of London on 1 April 1897. Being a woman, Beatrix was not allowed to read it in person or even attend . It may have been presented just by title and was not accepted for publication. After this disappointment her excitement and zest for scientific discovery waned and she turned her attention to activities which could earn her some money and independence .
The story of Beatrix's scientific endeavours is told in a charming little book by Elizabeth Battrick published by the Armitt Library and Museum Centre. It contains many excerpts from her letters and journal but the highlights are the reproductions of many of her wonderful botanical watercolours.
13 October 2009 from ChrisS
- On Lindale Hill
- Grange-over-Sands: The Story of a Gentle Township
- The Silent Traveller: A Chinese Artist in Lakeland
- Red Ike
- Cumbrian Privies
- Ethel Fisher's West Cumbrian Dialect titles
- The Embalmer's Book of Recipes by Ann Lingard
- Nella Last's Peace
- Riding the Stang by Dawn Robertson
- Life on the Fell - a pictorial chronicle of a Lakeland community
- About Scout Scar
- William Wilberforce - A Summer Diary 1779
- Beatrix Potter - the unknown years
- Smoke over Shap by Margaret Potter
- Songs of a Cragsman by George Basterfield
- The Grasmere Dialect Plays
- The Grizedale Experience: Sculpture, Art & Theatre in a Lakeland Forest
- An Atlas of The English Lakes
- How Hall. Poetry and Memories. A Passion for Ennerdale by Tom Rawling
- Stumpy, Hero of the Lakes
- The High Places by A. Harry Griffin
- The Highest House in Wathendale
- Kendal by Roger Bingham
- Secrets and Legends of Old Westmorland
- Reminiscences of Wordsworth Among the Peasantry of Westmorland by Canon Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley
- Little Gods by Jacob Polley
- A Lakeland Summer
- Hunter of Harter Fell by Joseph E Chipperfield
- And Nobody Woke Up Dead
- An accessible paradise
- The Fleming Family novels and Graham Sutton
- Excursion to Loweswater. A Lakeland Visit 1865
- Writing on the Wall
- Beyond Scafell by Alan Robinson
- Rogue Herries by Hugh Walpole
- Kendal In The Nineteenth Century by A Wainwright
- In There Somewhere
- The Bondwomen by W G Collingwood
- "Ah'd Gaa Back Tomorra!"
- A Cumbrian Copper by Ray Huddart
- The Arsenic Labyrinth by Martin Edwards
- Old Will Stories by Dudley Hoys
- The Shield Ring by Rosemary Sutcliff
- T'Bacca Queen by Theodora Wilson Wilson
- Furness and the Industrial Revolution
- The Shadow of Black Combe
- The Painted Letters of Percy Kelly
- Ivver Sen
- Lakeland in the 1830s
- Wasdale Climbing Book By Michael Cocker
- Riding High by Barbara Sneyd
- Deborah in Langdale
- Early Recollections of Grange
- Hazard's Way by Roger Hubank
- Yan, Tan, Tethera
- Talk of the Town
- Capturing the Mountains
- Hope On, Hope Ever
- Mildred Edwards: Our City Our People 1889 - 1978 Memories
- Lakeland Limericks
- Surrounding loveliness
- Haweswater by Sarah Hall
- Coast to Coast by Jan Minshull
- Sunshine To The Sunless
- Geese, cattle wallopers and secret Irish paths
- Anarchists, Angels and wet Bank Holiday Mondays
- A more unconventional kind of find...?
- Skiddaw Summit by Kathleen Jones
- Thorstein of the Mere: A Saga of the Northmen in Lakeland
- Wednesday Early Closing
- Smoke Across The Fell
- The Sand Pilot of Morecambe Bay
- The Chronicles of Boggerthwaite
- Carrock Fell
- Feet in the Clouds
- Hercules and the Farmer's Wife
- Shepherd's Warning
- The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices
- I've been so busy reading I haven't had time to blog!
- Reading Detectives film
- Thank you!
- Coffee and books at the Bluebell Bookshop
- Mary learns to blog!
- Lucky 13!
- Grange over Sands get reading
Help the team
Have you got something to contribute? You can contact us to report your clues and you can comment on our blog posts. It doesn't matter where in the world you are!