William Heelis (1872-1945) was a solicitor in Hawkshead, Cumbria, England.
He was the devoted husband of the famous children’s author, Beatrix Potter, whom he met while handling her property transactions in the Lake District at Hawkshead.
They became engaged in 1912 and married on October 14, 1913, in London at St Mary Abbots in Kensington.
Beatrix and Heelis enjoyed a happy marriage of thirty years, continuing their farming and preservation efforts throughout the hard days of World War II.
After Beatrix’s death, Heelis spent the brief remainder of his life in a nursing home at York where he died.
William Heelis early life
There is limited information on William Heelis’ early life.
However, we do know that he was born on February 18, 1872, in Dufton, Westmoreland (now Cumbria) to Reverend John Heelis and Esther Heelis.
He was a solicitor in Hawkshead, Cumbria, and handled Beatrix’s property transactions in the Lake District.
William Heelis cause of death
Heelis died on December 22, 1945, at Castle Cottage, Near Sawrey, Cumbria, England, due to complications from pneumonia and heart disease.
William Heelis career
Heelis was a solicitor.
For years, Heelis handled Beatrix’s transactions, and eventually, they fell in love.
With the earnings from her books, Beatrix was able to purchase a farm and land in England’s Lake District and create a private retreat.
The two held firm, enabling Beatrix to finally get out from under her parents’ thumb in her late forties, yet without ever making a dramatic break.
After a long and happy marriage, Heelis left their home at Castle Cottage following the hard shock of his wife’s death.
Who was Beatrix Potter?
Beatrix was an English author, illustrator, and conservationist, best known for her beloved children’s books featuring animal characters.
She was born on July 28, 1866, in London, England, and passed away on December 22, 1943, in Sawrey, Lancashire.
Beatrix’s interest in nature and animals began during her childhood, as she spent much of her time exploring the countryside and sketching the plants and animals she encountered.
Her family’s wealth allowed her to receive a private education and pursue her artistic and scientific interests.
Beatrix’s first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was initially self-published in 1901 after facing rejection from several publishers.
The book’s success led to a publishing deal, and Potter went on to write and illustrate a series of charming and beautifully illustrated children’s books, including The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, among others.
In addition to her writing and illustrating, Beatrix was a passionate conservationist.
She used the proceeds from her books to purchase land in the Lake District, which she then donated to the National Trust.
Her efforts helped preserve the natural beauty of the area, which had inspired many of her stories.
Beatrix’s contributions to children’s literature and conservation have had a lasting impact.
Her books continue to be beloved by readers of all ages, and her conservation work in the Lake District has left a lasting legacy.