Over the Hills and Far Away: The Life of Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter is one of the world's bestselling, most cherished authors, whose books have enchanted generations of children for over a hundred years. Yet how she achieved this legendary status is just one of several stories of Beatrix Potter's remarkable and unexpected life. Inspired by the twenty-three 'tales', Matthew Dennison takes a selection of quotations from Potter's stories and uses them to explore her multi-faceted life and character: repressed Victorian daughter; thwarted lover; artistic genius; formidable countrywoman. They chart her transformation from a young girl with a love of animals and fairy tales into a bestselling author and canny businesswoman, so deeply unusual for the Victorian era in which she grew up. Embellished with photographs of Potter's life and her own illustrations, this short biography will delight anyone who has been touched by Beatrix Potter's work.
'For fans who cherish the books, and anyone who has ever been in thrall to the intricately conceived world of bunnies' Sunday Times. 'Finely written and dancingly quick' TLS. 'This fresh approach is most effective for the early books, with Dennison providing a persuasive account of how the best Potter tales grew out of the oppressive frustrations of Bolt Gardens' The Guardian. 'One suspects that Potter would approve of the elegant subjectivity of Mr Dennison's account as he recasts the constraints of her era and milieu as priceless fuel for personal reinvention ... this beautifully produced biography unveils Potter as ahead of her time' Country Life. 'Fascinating ... Dennison's clever, searching account of her life shows the incredible fight she had to make herself into the kind of woman she wanted to be' The Times. 'The Potter that emerges from his pages is complex, contradictory, fully faceted ... Dennison's attentiveness, intelligence and lack of sentimentality make it a work of weight and substance that carries the distinction of seeing its subject whole ... Potter once referred to "the deepest me, the part one has to be alone with". Dennison's achievement is to have sounded those depths, and to have shown us something of their scale' The Irish Times. 'Cleverly designed to resemble one of her iconic children's books' Christmas pick, Choice Magazine. 'Enjoyable, thoughtful, impressionistic ... enhanced by Dennison's laconic narration' The Tablet. 'Charming, affectionate and warm' This is England. 'The story of the extraordinary boom in children's literature over the last 100 years could be bookended with a 'Tale of Two Potters' - Beatrix and Harry. The adventures of the latter have sold millions, but the foundations of his success were laid by the former, whose series of 'little tales' Matthew Dennison estimates in his equally condensed new biography 'are purchased somewhere in the world every 15 seconds" The Spectator. 'Dennison has had the brilliant idea of telling Beatrix Potter's life story through her work' Daily Mail. 'A carefully written and perceptive drawing together of Beatrix Potter's life and art ... A valuable and beguiling introduction to a fascinating story' The Beatrix Potter Society magazine.
Matthew Dennison is the author of five critically acclaimed works of non-fiction, including Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West, a Book of the Year in The Times, Spectator, Independent and Observer. He is a contributor to Country Life.