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Beatrix Potter letters to two sisters set to make over £800 each

Single sided letter, dated Nov 1940 from Beatrix Heelis to Miss Wilson, expected to make over £800.

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.

Two sided letter, May ’35 from Beatrix Heelis to Miss Maggie Wilson, expected to make over £800.

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. They are signed Beatrix Heelis, after the writer’s marriage in 1913, and are sent from Castle Cottage, Sawrey – her martial home until she died.

Valuer David Brookes, from 1818 Auctioneers, says each letter provides a good insight into the character and interests of a woman who amassed one of largest estates in the Lake District.

Given the continued popularity of Beatrix Potter letters the firm is expecting each to make in excess of £800 and possibly as much as £1,200 each. In February 2017, 1818 Auctioneers sold a letter from the author to the Mayor of Kendal for £1,800.

Speaking about the letters Mr Brookes said: “The oldest, dated May 1935 and addressed to Maggie, is a thank you for a cake, an update on her and William’s health and ends with Beatrix saying she would like Maggie to see an ‘oak 4poster’. There’s a description of the cake that could be straight out of a Great British Bake Off Show,” added the valuer.

In a letter sent five years later, Nov 1940, Beatrix writes to Miss Wilson to thank her for five primula roots and describes how she will plant them and where. And in the last letter, dated July 1942, Beatrix writes to Miss Wilson about the Land Army and women’s wages, something that continued to interest her. Beatrix ends her letter to Miss Wilson by saying she wishes to help but is getting slow and tired. The famous author died at her home on the 22 December 1943.

Selection of Beatrix Potter vintage photos, negatives & ephemera. Credit 1818 Auctioneers

The letters are being sold on Monday 3 June at saleroom at J36 Rural Auction Centre (next to junction 36 of the M6) and include other Beatrix Potter items. There is a lot made up of a selection of vintage photographs, negatives and ephemera including an image of the author in her garden at Castle Cottage, which was used by the Times newspaper in her obituary in December 1943. There is also a letter to Beatrix Heelis about leaving her estates to the National Trust. This collection is expected to make £800-1200. In the book section of the sale there is a first edition of ‘The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes’ which is estimated to make between £70 and £100.

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).

For further information visit 1818 Auctioneers website – 1818auctioneers.co.uk or call the saleroom on 015395 66201.

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