Nature's Calling: Expanding the Legacy of Beatrix Potter in the Construction, Contestation and Contemporary Preservation of the Lake District


  • Meg Sherval The University of Newcastle


Beatrix Potter, Lake District, landscape, preservation, stewardship, World Heritage.


Beatrix Potter was arguably the most well-known British children’s author of the 20th century. Her work not only captured the landscape of the Cumbrian region, but also encouraged dynamic encounters with the natural world through interactions between the human and non-human. Unlike many other children’s authors of her day, she took a relational, embodied approach to landscape immersing herself and her characters in a world that was realistic, yet unadorned. Through examples of her literary and later life’s work, I argue that Beatrix Potter essentially ensured that the English pastoral remained emplaced not only in the imagination, but in the everyday lives of her readers, her neighbours and the many generations who would later visit the Lake District. In this paper, by making use of Potter’s Will and through examining her later years and reputation, I suggest that an impetus for local stewardship and long-term preservation of the Lakeland district and its regional ecology are clearly displayed. I posit that it was her foresight in understanding the careful balance needed between conservation, heritage, culture and economy, that propelled others to begin the transition needed to protect the Lake District’s future through the achievement of its national and then international preservation status.


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