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Teen Reader

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

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 About the Author

Frances Burnett HodgesQuote

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924)

Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett (24 November 1849 – 29 October 1924) was a British novelist and playwright. She is best known for the three children's novels Little Lord Fauntleroy (published in 1885–1886), A Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1911).

Frances Eliza Hodgson was born in Cheetham, Manchester, England. After her father died in 1853, when Frances was 3 years old, the family fell on straitened circumstances and in 1865 emigrated to the United States, settling in New Market, Tennessee. Frances began her remunerative writing career there at age 19 to help earn money for the family, publishing stories in magazines. In 1870, her mother died. In Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1873 she married Swan Burnett, who became a medical doctor. Their first son Lionel was born a year later. The Burnetts lived for two years in Paris, where their second son Vivian was born, before returning to the United States to live in Washington, D.C. Burnett then began to write novels, the first of which (That Lass o' Lowrie's), was published to good reviews. Little Lord Fauntleroy was published in 1886 and made her a popular writer of children's fiction, although her romantic adult novels written in the 1890s were also popular. She wrote and helped to produce stage versions of Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess.

Beginning in the 1880s, Burnett began to travel to England frequently and in the 1890s bought a home there, where she wrote The Secret Garden. Her elder son, Lionel, died of tuberculosis in 1890, which caused a relapse of the depression she had struggled with for much of her life. She divorced Swan Burnett in 1898, married Stephen Townsend in 1900, and divorced him in 1902. A few years later she settled in Nassau County, New York, where she died in 1924 and is buried in Roslyn Cemetery. (From Wikipedia)


The Secret Garden (1911)

When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle's great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.

The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary's only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. With the help of two unexpected companions, Mary discovers a way in—and becomes determined to bring the garden back to life.

Questions for The Secret Garden

Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude.
Martha, in fact, says Mary is "as tyrannical as a pig" and that Colin is the
"worst young newt as ever was." Why are both children so ill-tempered?
Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behaviour?

Why does Mary respond so well to Martha? What characteristics of
Martha's personality are responsible for awakening the gentleness hidden
in Mary?

Compare Dickon's upbringing with Mary's and Colin's. How is it different?
Is it important, or just incidental, that Dickon is a "common moor boy" rather than a member of the "privileged class"?

Could Mary and Colin have found the path to spiritual and physical healing without Dickon?

In your opinion, does Mr. Craven, after subjecting his son to years of
neglect, deserve redemption?

(Questions from

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