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In 1902 London, spinster Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger) lives with her bourgeois parents. Her snobbish mother, Helen Potter (Barbara Flynn), had introduced several bachelors to Beatrix until she was 20, but she turned them all down. Beatrix Potter has been drawing animals and making up stories about them since she was a child, but her parents have never recognized her as an artist. One day, Miss Potter offers her stories to a print house, and rookie publisher Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor), who is delighted with her tales, publishes her first children's book. This success leads Norman to publish two other books; meanwhile, Miss Potter becomes best friends with his single sister Millie Warne (Emily Watson). Soon Beatrix and Norman fall in love with each other, but Helen doesn't accept that her daughter would marry a "trader." However, Beatrix's father Rupert Potter (Bill Paterson) proposes that his daughter spend the summer with her parents in their country house in the Lake District, and if she is still interested in Norman after that, he will bless their marriage. When Miss Potter stops receiving letters from Norman, she is disappointed. Then one day she receives a letter from Millie explaining what happened to Norman.