The Secret Dark Side of Beatrix Potter

Children’s book lovers adore Beatrix Potter’s tales of Peter Rabbit and other living creatures. Self-published authors admire her pioneering efforts in the indie writing world. But many people don’t know that Beatrix Potter captured her own animals to study, before she meticulously skinned and dissected them to study them from the inside out. Lots of authors have a dark side, and Beatrix Potter did, too. 

And Your Little Dog, Too

There’s a reason that Beatrix Potter’s illustrations of animals are so lifelike, so perfectly detailed and startlingly accurate. She spent a great deal of time studying small animals. She was well-educated for her gender and her era, efforts that were encouraged by her parents. Beatrix Potter was intellectually curious and rather bold for a woman of her day. That’s why she wasn’t afraid to capture animals, peel off their skins and cut them open.

It’s just a little bit surprising that she’s also a celebrated and well-loved children's author, too.

Beatrix Potter had a bit of a secret dark side, like lots of authors. How can one write of darkness without knowing darkness? Authors train themselves to be observant and analytical, and sometimes this can manifest itself in strange ways. For Beatrix Potter, that meant scientifically studying the creatures that she wrote about so well.

Be analytical. Be observant. Study things. It will help to make you a better writer if you make an effort to understand the world you’re going to write about. Luckily, you’re writing during the Internet age. You don’t have to capture and dissect your own animals, because there are lots of less icky ways to do research now.

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