Potter photo gallery
Zellweger stars as the very modern Miss Potter
The Lake District is the star of a new Hollywood movie starring
Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor.
Miss Potter follows the life of the
best selling children's author who spent much of her life writing and running
a farm in Cumbria.
Inside Out looks at how filming caused quite a bit of
excitement in the Lake District, and reflects on Beatrix Potter's legacy.
Born 1866 in Kensington,
London. Her parents were the nouveau riche with wealth built on the Lancashire
cotton mills. Her father was a barrister.
As a child Beatrix
visited the Lake District with her family. She developed a keen interest in natural
history and painting.
Potter sent 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit'
to six publishers before it was eventually accepted by Warne and Co who published
it in 1902.
Got engaged to published Norman Warne in 1905
but he died of leukemia before they could marry.
Potter characters were Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, and Benjamin Bunny.
Cumbrian solicitor William Heelis in 1913.
Developed a new
career as a sheep farmer and land conservationist in the lakes.
in 1943 aged 77 years.
Much of the appeal of Beatrix Potter
for Hollywood is that she still sells around two million books world-wide every
She was also an independent woman, a free thinker who defied the
conventions of her Victorian upbringing to create a lasting legacy.
Zellweger says, "Beatrix Potter was a great naturalist and a brilliant woman.
was also a smart woman, so clever, multi-faceted. And yet, not many people know
In fact Beatrix Potter wasn't just an author - she was
also a committed conservationist who left 14 farms to the National Trust when
she died in 1943.
Renee Zellweger did a great deal of research into Potter's
character for the film.
For the Hollywood actress it was fascinating to
follow Potter's voyage of self discovery.
"Quite apart from her extraordinary
professional life, she went through so much privately," says Renee.
felt a strong kinship with her. In her younger years she tried to conform to the
woman she was meant to be...
"Her journey made perfect sense to me."
The Lake District almost becomes another character in the film
of Miss Potter.
Director Chris Noonan extols the virtues of the Lakes as
a movie location:
"It is a film set. It is so pristine
"And so much of it has been preserved as it was at the
turn of the century that it is just a sitting duck to be used as a film set for
a period drama like this."
Renee Zellweger enjoyed filming
in the area:
"It's fantastic and so beautifully preserved...
It was a lovely experience."
Much of the inspiration for
Potter's books came from her first home - Hill Top in Ambleside in the Lakes.
Top was just one of the many farms owned by Beatrix Potter, but the sheer volume
of visitors made it difficult to film there, as Production Designer Martin Childs
"Hill Top is fabulous but it's a very well known
place attracting tourists from around the world.
"Not only is it full
of tourists but the National Trust could not close it down for the length of time
it would take to shoot scenes there."
Potter star Renee Zellweger with Inside Out's Jacey Normand|
nearby Yew Tree was transformed into Hill Top with the addition of a dry stone
wall, an external make-over and a new porch.
The tenants at Yew Tree had
to put up with the film crew being on their door step for several weeks, but decided
to keep some of the building alterations after shooting finished.
farmer Jon Watson had to work around the stars:
was lambing time - there was no time for the glitz and glamour... It was like
Although there was some local disruption,
the film is a great showcase for the Lake District in its full glory.
beauty of the area certainly won over its Hollywood star.
says that she enjoyed "Grasmere and gingerbread".
a good thing we got out before that corset got much tighter!," says the pencil
thin film actress.
An amazing adventure
In the great traditions
of all Hollywood films, Miss Potter is also a love story.
real Beatrix Potter.|
c/o PA Images
Ewan McGregor plays
Beatrix Potter's fiancé and publisher Norman Warne.
to publish the timeless tales of Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddleduck
and their furry friends.
McGregor is also a fan of Beatrix Potter's work:
are not just straightforward fluffy kids' stories.
"They are quite
dark some of them - and often quite weird. They are somehow timeless."
even admits to having some Beatrix Potter memorabilia at home:
yes! Everyone does - the plates, the mugs... My parents sent down the complete
works when my daughter, Clara, was born.
"Then I started noticing we
had egg cups, and plates, stuff all over the house!"
says the most stimulating part of the experience of becoming Beatrix Potter was
filming in the Lake District, the place that Beatrix loved.
really sense the peace she found there, that she craved. The access to all the
things she liked most, the things that inspired her, the colours she used in her
paintings, the quiet that allows you to sit and take it in."
Miss Potter will stimulate a revival of interest in the Lakeland locations featured
in the movie and in the author's work for a new generation of fans.
the Beatrix Potter trail...
Hill Top is located near Sawrey, Hawkshead,
Ambleside in Cumbria.
Lake District - Potter played an important conservation role|
015394 36269 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
for more details.
The house is closed during the winter but reopens from
31 March for its 2007 season.
The Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead,
Cumbria has an exhibition of original book illustrations by Beatrix Potter, plus
information about her life.
Telephone: 015394 36355 or
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