Two nights ago I watched the movie "Miss Potter" about the beloved children's author and illustrator Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 - 22 December 1943). My favorite part was the opening scene which showed Renee Zellweger as Miss Potter mixing her watercolors and testing the shades of blue on thick watercolor paper. I covet the wooden box in which she kept her pencils and brushes.
When young, while her brother impaled moths and butterflies for his collection, Beatrix was sketching toy rabbits. When the family takes to summering in the Lake District, Beatrix discovers an entire barnyard of animals and gardens. These studies became the basis of her tales of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Paddle-Duck, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, and a host of other mice, toads, and kittens.
The movie was a gentle story about Miss Potter's success with her books, her romance with her publisher - of which her parents strongly disapproved - and about her purchase of Hill Top Farm in the Lake District and surrounding farms in an effort to preserve the beauty of the landscape
I can see that I am going to be off on a Miss Potter kick. Not only because of her stories but especially because of her sketches and watercolors.
Wikipedia tells me that there are mysteries featuring Miss Potter - The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter - by Susan Wittig Albert. There are two recent biographies by Linda Lear: Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature (2007) and Beatrix Potter: The Extraordinary Life of a Victorian Genius (2008). And, there are her own journals and letters.
I can't think of a better way to spend the winter than in the company of the talented and kind Miss Potter.