BEATRIX Potter's dedication to the art of letter writing is being celebrated in a new exhibition.

National Trust curators are putting the finishing touches to a display of the Peter Rabbit author's precious handwritten letters, illustrations from some of her famous tales and old photographs.

Artefacts bequeathed to the trust by the storyteller-turned-Lake District sheep farmer are being put on show among the crooked old corridors and wooden stairs of the quirky Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead - where her husband, William Heelis, worked as a solicitor.

Liz MacFarlane, the National Trust's house and collections manager said “The letters in this year’s exhibition are Beatrix Potter’s original words, sometimes so touching and sad but often showing the humour, determination and energy of this many-sided genius.

"It is also heartwarming to be reminded of the simple beauty of getting and sending a handwritten letter, something we do so rarely today."

The exhibition - called "Friendship by Post - People who Shaped Beatrix Potter’s World" - opened on Saturday (February 15, 2020) and explores Beatrix's relationships by letter, near and far.

Correspondence from places as far-flung as New Zealand and the USA with eminent literary specialists or fans of her work give a glimpse into her professional life.

Meanwhile, letters that were destined to stay closer to home, such as for her shepherd and friend Joseph Moscrop, reflect what a big part farming played in her life.

Artefacts on show include her writing desk from Troutbeck Park, one of the 14 Lakeland farms she bequeathed to the National Trust.

The writing desk of Beatrix's great friend Hardwicke Rawnsley, vicar of Wray and one of the National Trust's pioneering founders, has also been loaned from Rufford Old Hall in Lancashire.

Described as "passionate and charismatic", Canon Rawnsley and Beatrix shared a lasting friendship and love of the Lake District. A unique version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which Rawnsley tried to "improve" to help Beatrix get it published, will also be on show.

With the National Trust celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, the characterful rooms of the Beatrix Potter Gallery have been freshly lime-washed with complementary colours to set off the new exhibits.

"Friendship by Post" runs until November 1, 2020.

Meanwhile, Beatrix Potter's farm, Hill Top, at Near Sawrey, has now reopened for the season.

Nearby Wray Castle has also reopened its doors, and visitors will be invited to get creative this February half term with the "Great Wray Castle Sketch" - a week of fun drawing challenges around the castle and grounds. Participants will be able to collect a certificate or add to the castle's pop-up gallery.

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