Beatrix Potter and Her Sheep

Thanks to her delightful books, Beatrix Potter will probably always be associated with various animals, especially rabbits. In her real life, Potter was known for her sheep. Along with her shepherd, Tom Storey, Potter raised and bred Herdwick sheep which were at the time considered a threatened native breed. Potter by all accounts loved her sheep. She won prizes at local shows for them and was even elected as the first female president of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association in 1943. After her death she left around 4,000 acres to the National Trust and asked that the land still be used for grazing Herdwick. In fact, her work with Herdwick sheep was so important that her portrait in the National Gallery references not her writing, but her work with the sheep, as can be seen here.

Herdwick

A herd of Herdwick sheep in Cumbria. Photo by Andy Docker.

—Christina