THREE handwritten letters by Lakeland children’s author and illustrator Beatrix Potter could sell for over £800 each when they come up for auction next month (Monday 3 June).
They are addressed to two sisters, who lived in the neighbouring village of Hawkshead, and span almost a decade. The letters are being sold by 1818 Auctioneers at their saleroom on the Cumbria, Lancashire border as three lots.
The letters are to Miss Sissy Wilson, who taught at the village school, and Miss Maggie Wilson, who owned the tearooms, and are being sold by a direct descendant of theirs. They are signed Beatrix Heelis, after the writer’s marriage in 1913, and are sent from Castle Cottage, Sawrey – Beatrix Potter’s marital home until her death on 22 December 1943, aged 77.
The last letter sold by 1818 Auctioneers, from the author to the mayor of Kendal made £1,800 (in Feb 2017).
Valuer David Brookes, from 1818 Auctioneers, says each letter provides a great insight into her character and interests and reminds us that she was a shrewd, successful and fair businesswoman who amassed one of largest estates in the Lake District.
Mr Brookes said: “The first letter, dated May 1935 and addressed to Maggie, is a thank you for a cake which Beatrix praises for the crisp delicacy of the pastry and succulence of the syrup. Beatrix ends with an update on her and William’s health, that they are spring cleaning and that she will show Maggie a room with a four poster bed in it when it’s ready.
“In a letter sent five years later, Nov 1940, Beatrix writes to Miss Wilson to thank her for five primula roots which she says she will plant in a raised bed over rubble. Beatrix explains that they will go in a space left by an overgrown and snow-damaged box border which has been cut down.
“In the last letter, dated 4th July 1942, Beatrix writes to Miss Wilson about the Land Army and women’s wages. She is quick to see the appeal of an outdoor job for a Land Girl and thanks Miss Wilson for addressing possible boredom in the evenings. She ends by saying she wishes to help but is getting slow and tired. A few weeks later she would turn 76 and, over a year later, had died” added David Brookes.
Given the continued interest in Beatrix Potter letters, the firm is expecting each letter to make in excess of £800 and possibly as much as £1,200. They will be sold on the first day of 1818 Auctioneer’s Two Day Specialist Auction (Mon 3 and Tuesday 4th June) at their J36 Rural Auction Centre saleroom (next to junction 36 of the M6).
Viewing is by appointment (015395 66201) or on Friday 31st May (1-4pm), Saturday 1st June (10am – 2.30pm), and on the morning of the auction (from 8.30am).
Images of the letters from Beatrix Potter to the Wilson sisters in Hawkshead: