Monday, July 25, 2011

What do Dorothy L. Sayers and Beatrix Potter have in common?

They both aspired to lofty academic heights. Sayers yearned to be remembered as a medieval scholar and theologian. Potter aimed to become a botanical illustrator esteemed by botanists. Although each achieved their goals, they are remembered and acclaimed for their more frivolous, playful works, i.e. the Peter Wimsey novels and the Tales of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, etc.

Could this be because they did their best work when they were relaxed and thought what they were doing didn’t really matter? While writing mysteries and tales for children they were no longer uptight, worrying what their critics and peers might think, and consequently did their best work? Or was their academic work simply less popular with the general population?

Whatever, I’m so glad Sayers and Potter did relax and let their playful side take over now and then, so they could give us some of the most entertaining stories ever written.

Maybe we should all give our lofty ambitions a rest and relax a little.

Robin Hathaway

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