Chet Raymo (Science Musings) has an interesting post about Beatrix Potter's work as a naturalist.
Potter was the first person in Britain, and one of the first in the world, to recognize that lichens were composed of two organisms, a fungus and an alga. Her microscopic study of lichens led her to the conclusion that the two organisms lived in a mutually advantageous relationship: symbiosis. The alga took care of photosynthesis for the pair, converting sunlight to useful nourishment, she believed; the fungus gave the alga a safe haven, stored water, and drew minerals necessary for photosynthesis from the anchoring rock or tree trunk.Her work was generally ignored by the scientific establishment.
At last, through the helpful influence of her uncle, a chemist, she managed to have a scientific paper presented at a meeting of the Linnean Society of London: "On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae," by Helen B. Potter. Of course, she was not allowed to read it herself; only men were allowed to attend the meetings.She eventually turned away from science, and focused on illustrated books for children. While it would be a less colorful world without Peter Rabbit, it's hard to know what was lost by excluding women like Potter from the scientific community.