During her vacations in the Birnam area of Perthshire Beatrix Potter is know to have spent considerable time in and around the beautiful village of Dalguise. It was here that, as a teenager, she pursued her scientific research of fungi, as well as trees and ferns. This landscape must have been an idyll for Beatrix.

There is a cottage in Dalguise where there was a washerwoman who provided the role model for Mrs Tiggy Winkle.

Although having been being tutored by a governess, and was therefore without an academic background, she nevertheless undertook some quality scientific research into fungi which at that time were still deemed to be within the plant ‘family’. She worked closely with local naturalist-and postman-Charles McIntosh-who was a shy man but, like Beatrix, had a strong passion for local flora and fauna. McIntosh walked some 15 miles per day in the course of his postal duties.

Beatrix provided McIntosh with some of her drawings with which he was well pleased.

Beatrix is known to have a strong interest in groups of fungi and wanted to know :

  • Why they appeared so rapidly
  • Where were they before growth started?
  • How did the single cell grow from spores?

She discovered that a single cell rapidly produces a network of filaments.

Beatrix’s research was of such quality that she was able, via a Mr. Massey, to submit a paper to the Linnean Society, London where the work was well received but was not expressed in the normal dour, scientific language to gain full acceptance. Moreover, at this time, this type of academic work was very much the province of men.

Although Beatrix’s drawings were of high quality, very few featured in her children’s books.

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