The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Two rings surrounding a person on a purple background.  Two open white pages on an orange background.  A black background with a white W.  A black background with a white symbol, that has a black play symbol in the middle.  A black background with a white tentacled cat.

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While ostensibly a children’s book, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett treats children more maturely than most. Off the bat, we encounter a young girl who loses both of her parents and is sent off to live with a relative in England. She brings her attitude with her; instead of fun-loving and caring, she’s haughty and more than a little brattish. She treats her maid like she treated the maids who served her every need in India, where she lived – not well, to say the least.

However, that slowly changes. When Mary Lennox, a sickly girl, arrives at Misselthwaite Manor, she learns of a secret garden. The garden was tended to by the deceased wife of the lord of the manor. After she died in the garden, he locked it up and buried the key – and since then, no one had set foot inside. That’s hardly enough to stop an adventurous young girl, however.

Mary soon makes it her mission to find this secret garden. Along the way, her attitude begins to change as she meets more people and befriends them. Some of them include her maid, Martha Sowerby; Martha’s mother, the hidden son of her uncle, Colin; and her favorite, Dickon.

A favorite writer in Britain, Hodgson’s classic was not as popular as her other works such as Little Lord Fauntleroy. As children’s literature began receiving more scholarly attention, this quickly changed. In 2003, the book ranked 51 on a survey of favorite books in Britain conducted by the BBC. Its upswing in popularity hasn’t just been limited to Britain; in a 2007 poll, the US National Education Association called it one of the Top 100 Books for Children.

You can buy an illustrated version of the book here and a 100th anniversary version here. There’s also a 2016 film adaptation available.