Raised by wealthy parents in mid-Victorian London, Beatrix Potter became a multi-faceted woman whose life and work remain a source of inspiration and interest today. Against many odds, she developed a successful career as a writer and illustrator of children’s books that are still highly popular worldwide and have been translated in many different languages. She achieved financial independence and owned property during an era in which women had few educational options, lacked legal rights, and were barred from most participating in professions. She used her earnings to purchase and preserve substantial tracts of land and 17th-century farm buildings in the English Lake District, eventually leaving them to the National Trust. Beatrix Potter was clearly a force to be reckoned with, a “woman ahead of her time” in many ways.
Betsy Bray offers presentations on the various roles played by Beatrix Potter over the 77 years of her life, from young adulthood as author and illustrator of 23 children’s books to her later life as Lake District sheep farmer, land conservationist, and community activist.
Betsy is uniquely qualified to offer these presentations:
She was elected the first overseas Trustee of the London-based Beatrix Potter Society and has been a Member of the Society since 1984.
She has spoken at several of the Society’s International Study Conferences and given illustrated talks to various groups in the US, UK, Africa, and Australia.
She gave a series of lectures on a transatlantic voyage of the Queen Mary 2.
She has studied Beatrix Potter.
.Her talks are geared towards adults and last about 45 minutes, followed by a question and answer period.
"Betsy's presentation captivated the attendees. We all gained new insights into Beatrix's life and contributions - as children's book author and illustrator and her scientific drawings and land preservation efforts in the Lake District. Betsy's style of sharing interesting historical facts while interspersing her journey of discovering Beatrix Potter fully engaged and energized the audience." Helen Sirrett, organizer of the First Art Museum's meet-up weekend for the Beatrix Potter Society
"The illustrated Zoom talk is visually beautiful, with lovely images of Beatrix Potter's life and times. Betsy Bray presents a comprehensive story of Beatrix’s growth as an artist, starting early and continuing through years of creativity and storytelling. Her paintings and drawings support the informative narrative and give us a new appreciation of Beatrix Potter, writer, artist, and conservationist. Thank you for sharing your expertise." Angela Mault, Executive Director, Creative Arts Center, Chatham, MA
"Betsy Bray’s Zoom presentation, "Beatrix Potter: The Woman behind the Rabbit," gives viewers a lively overview of the life and legacy of cherished children’s book author Beatrix Potter. Using captivating photos, Betsy shares insights into Potter’s early years, shaped by a love of animals and the natural world, her growth as an artist and writer, and her later years as a farmer and land conservationist. I recommend this virtual program without reservation." Rebecca, Storrs Library, Programming & Collection Development Librarian, Longmeadow, MA
"Thank you again for such a lovely program yesterday. The audience really seemed to enjoy it. I appreciate you sharing your passion and expertise on Beatrix Potter with the Storrs Library community. Betsy Bray presented a delightful biography of the life of Beatrix Potter with photographs and illustrations connecting Potter's history with contemporary updates for context. Bray covered Potter's personal and family life, artistic developments, and love of nature. A wide variety of beautiful photographs were shared of Potter, her family, landscapes of places from her life, pets, her journals and sketchbooks, and books from which she drew inspiration. We enjoyed a journey through Potter's life from her young sketches to storytelling with friends to publishing, as well as the now iconic Hill Top house and her Herdwick sheep. March 2021." Tatanya Flannery, Reference Librarian, Weston (MA) Public Library
Cape Cod Modern House Trust
Betsy’s 45-minute illustrated talk emphasizes the work of the Cape Modern House Trust. Betsy loves sharing her enthusiasm for these little-known houses nestled in the woods of Wellfleet. She works with Cape Cod Modern House Trust as tour coordinator.
What people say:
"Betsy’s interest and passion for these houses and their histories was evident and easily spread among the audience. Her use of visual material to illustrate unique details of the architecture kept the audience engaged, and her openness and willingness to answer questions encouraged their curiosity. The lecture itself went very smoothly and was organized in a manner that made sense for the topic at hand. It was also a great opportunity for those interested in these houses to get a virtual tour of them without having to visit these locations themselves. Betsy’s explanations and walkthroughs of the houses offered something for everyone, regardless of the amount of prior knowledge they may or may not have in architecture or Cape Cod history. We would love to have her back for another talk!" Falon Williams, Programming Assistant, Snow Library, Orleans, MA
"Our library recently hosted Betsy on zoom for her talk on the Cape Cod Modern House Trust, and our patrons thoroughly enjoyed her presentation. It was the perfect length, covering only the four homes that the Trust stewards, and included great visuals, photos, floor plans, and personal stories from Betsy's time as a tour guide with the Trust. Perfect for architecture and history buffs but also enjoyable for anyone who loves the Cape. Betsy was friendly, easy to work with, and welcomed questions at the end of her talk. We will have her back again soon. Highly recommend it!" Michael Achille, Local History Librarian, Hingham (MA) Public Library
"We recently hosted Betsy Bray for a unique Zoom presentation about the Architecture of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust. Traveling and exploring virtually was nice, but we cannot travel due to Coronavirus. Betsy speaks very clearly, has beautiful, informative slides & video footage, and allowed our small group to ask questions. Betsy mentioned her local ties to our area and connected with the audience while customizing the presentation to the local audience. Betsy was easy to work with, affordable, and set up the Zoom call for us. Not only was it easy and affordable, but our patrons were also pleased." Melissa Rickson, Senior Library Technician, Hubbard Library, Ludlow MA
"Betsy Bray's lecture on the "Hidden Architecture of Cape Cod" at the Atwood House Museum Chatham, MA, outlined (with wonderful photographs) the history of the modernist houses which were built throughout Wellfleet and Truro during the 1940s and '50s by noted artists, architects, and builders. These people proved how houses could be modern and inventive and still retain the charm and simplicity of the traditional old Cape house and preserve the Cape's fragile environment. Betsy, who has designed and built houses herself, was the perfect speaker on this issue. Understandingly, the museum had a full house." Carol Pacun, Atwood House Museum, Chatham, MA Frank Lloyd Wright: My Passion
Frank Lloyd Wright said, “a good building does not hurt the landscape but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.” He also said: “Study nature, love nature stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” These words resonate with Betsy, a self-described Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast. She has visited at least 100 of his public and private buildings throughout the United States. She has volunteered for the Chicago-based Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy over the last ten years. She was the recipient of the Conservancy Award in 2019. Betsy is excited to share her passion for this architectural genius. Her illustrated talk is about 45 minutes long.
"Betsy Bray’s program at the Brooks Free Library in Harwich MA on Jan. 8 was DEFINITELY excellent. Everyone was mesmerized and fully engaged. The audience was so complimentary and enjoyed everything: the explanations and the Power Point presentation. She will definitely be invited back to participate in our Sunday Program Series." Connie Georgio, Friends of the Brooks Library, Harwich, MA
My Friend, Maurice Sendak In this illustrated talk, Betsy Bray presents, “My Friend, Maurice Sendak” Sendak was famous writing and illustrating the book: Where the Wild Things Are”. During his life, he illustrated over 150 books. Betsy will talk about how she and Maurice became friends. She will also talk about his long impressive career as a writer and artist. .
Betsy Bray’s lecture, “Maurice Sendak and Me”, opened up the wonderful world of Maurice Sendak. Her personal relationship with Mr. Sendak, photos, and stories made the author of "Where the Wild Things Are" come alive in a truly delightful way." Libby Jordan, Director, Arts & Museums, City of Florence, AL.