Beatrix Potter: bestselling author, artist – and expert on our native mushrooms

Potter's science paper to be presented to society that rejected it in 1897 because she was a woman

A A A

To generations of children, she is the author whose fertile mind created the likes of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck and the genial figure portrayed onscreen by Renée Zellweger, whose books became some of the most recognisable and popular in history.

Thanks to Victorian sensitivites, however, which could not bear women and science to be in the same room, Beatrix Potter was barred from presenting what some consider to be among her best work: her findings in the field of mycology, or the study of fungi.

That injustice will soon be addressed when a female academic presents a summary of her observations to London's Linnean Society, the very organisation that told Miss Helen B Potter she was not welcome in 1897.

According to some academics, Potter's close observations presented as watercolour paintings were part of the movement which helped scientists eventually reclassify fungi as a kingdom separate of plants and animals.

"Beatrix Potter looked into the germination of their spores. The illustrations which survive stand up as beautiful and highly accurate representations, so her observational powers were clearly very good. In that way, they are not dissimilar to the drawings which accompanied her children's books," said Dr Elizabeth Rollinson, Executive Secretary of the Linnean Society of London.

But when Miss Potter came to present her findings to the Society, she was told they would have to be read by a man because women were not allowed to become members.

By the time they were, Miss Potter's career in fiction writing was beginning to hit its stride with The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tailor of Gloucester, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and The Tale of Two Bad Mice joining her most famous work, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

The paper, the only one Miss Potter ever produced, was accepted for publication but she was never to see her work printed. Soon afterwards, records show she asked for the work to be returned in order to make some changes and never resubmitted it.

The drawings are exhibited at the Armitt Museum in Ambleside, Cumbria. The original paper is lost but, to mark the Armitt's centenary, an expert in fungi, Ali Murfitt will present a summary in April. She will do so alongside the patron of the Beatrix Potter Society, the actress Patricia Routledge.

The curator of the Armitt, Deborah Walsh, said: "This is a very exciting prospect which will highlight the immensely important and influential nature of the work which Beatrix Potter achieved, and will bring to national attention the wonderful collection of her work which our museum holds."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Manager / New Product Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company mission is to be th...

Recruitment Genius: Software Tester

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Tester is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Developer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The Company sells mobile video advertising sol...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have a vacancy within our ra...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project