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A Little Princess (1905)

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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13,701200345 (4.22)1 / 422
Sara Crewe, a pupil at Miss Minchin's London school, is left in poverty when her father dies but is later rescued by a mysterious benefactor.

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English (195)  Finnish (2)  German (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (200)
Showing 1-5 of 195 (next | show all)
“Whatever comes," she said, "cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess

Sigh. Magic, pure magic.

I always loved the story of "Princess" Sara and her father, the students and the evil Miss Minchin. My mom and I watched the movie together which was also wonderful.

Growing up, I read this and reread it. It was one of my favorites. I loved the Princess Sara and still do She is just enchanting and such a beautifully drawn character. It remains a precious book from my past.

I do think it is a wonderful tale that parents and their kids can enjoy together. But I will also say there are some very sad moments and for very sensitive children or children who have a tough time with any story that has moments of deep sadness and loss, it maybe best to wait in my humble opinion. As enchanting and luscious as the story is, there are some really dark moments.

But the image of the wonderful Princess Sarah, is the image of true grace and kindness. I remain a huge fan of this lovely tale. ( )
  Thebeautifulsea | Aug 5, 2022 |
This is a charming, old-fashioned children's story teaching the values of imagination, grace under pressure, integrity, and kindness. It also a story replete with classism and imperialistic attitudes.

I loved this story as a child, and it will always have a place in my heart, but oh my what the adult mind can see in it. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Jul 16, 2022 |
Sara Crewe’s mother died when Sara was an infant, and Sara has been brought up by her Army captain father in India. As soon as she’s old enough, Captain Crewe makes arrangements for Sara to enroll in Miss Minchin’s boarding school in London. The wealthy Captain Crewe spares no expense to make Sara comfortable at the school, where she will have a private room with its own sitting room, beautiful clothes, and her own pony and carriage. Sara is a kind and generous girl, and she befriends the girls that the other girls shun. Sara has a vivid imagination and she entrances the other girls with her storytelling. Sara imagines that she is a princess, and she tries to behave as a princess would do. This attitude serves her well when her father dies after losing all his fortune, and Sara becomes an unpaid servant relegated to an attic bedroom. Even in these unpleasant circumstances, Sara is still kind and generous. Things eventually work out for Sara in a way that even her vivid imagination can’t conceive.

Sara seems a little too perfect, especially for a child, yet her attitude is one that I aspire to for myself. Sara’s riches to rags to riches story brings to mind the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 4:11-13:
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (KJV)

I am very familiar with the Shirley Temple movie, which changed the plot somewhat. I love the movie version and the book equally, and Shirley Temple was perfect for the role of Sara. ( )
  cbl_tn | May 22, 2022 |
This is one of my favorite books and has been since I was eight years old. I love seeing her overcome the obstacles in her life, usually by sheer grit and determination, and do so without losing her humanity.

As the daughter of an Englishman in India during Victorian times, it is expected that at some point, she would be sent home to England for schooling. This is partly because of the prejudices of the time and because they felt that the Indian climate was not healthy for children. The book opens when Sara is seven years old and taken to the London boarding school where she is expected to live for the next decade. She is heartbroken at being separated from her beloved father but puts a brave face on it for him. Having spent all her life around adults, she is rather serious and unusually observant. Her initial take on Miss Minchin is spot-on and proves so throughout the book.

During the first part of the book, we see Sara settling into school life and making friends. As something of a misfit herself, Sara leans towards other outcasts like herself. One of her first friends is Ermengarde, a little girl who is overweight and a slow learner. She is bullied unmercifully by other girls and Miss Minchin. I loved seeing Sara take Ermengarde under her wing and find a faithful and loyal friend. Next is Lottie, a very young child who is far too young to have been sent away to school. Lottie has been spoiled by her family and has learned to use her motherless state to get what she wants. I liked the first scene between Sara and Lottie, with Sara's quiet empathy and kindness saving the day. Finally comes Sara's friendship with Becky, the school's scullery maid. Once again, Sara's innate compassion and empathy lead her to befriend a young girl very different from herself but with whom she can also see their similarities.

The first four years of Sara's life at Miss Minchin's pass quickly with brief vignettes of her life during that time. Then comes her eleventh birthday and the day her life changed. As Sara and her schoolmates enjoy an elaborate birthday party, Miss Minchin receives a visit from Captain Crewe's lawyer. The man brings the unwelcome news that Captain Crewe is dead of fever and that he died broke and in debt due to a bad investment. Miss Minchin is furious that she is out the money she has spent, adding to her resentment and dislike of Sara. Thinking better of just throwing the girl out on the street, she turns Sara into an unpaid servant.

I ached for Sara, whose life was completely upended. She wasn't even allowed time to grieve her father's death before facing the drastic changes in her life. It breaks my heart every time to see her try to hang on to her upbeat attitude while enduring the abuse of others. During this time, Sara's ability to lose herself in the worlds her imagination creates makes her life a little more bearable. It was infinitely satisfying to see Sara's inner strength as she survived the appalling treatment. There were a few bright spots in her life - occasional surreptitious visits from Ermengarde or Lottie, the rat she befriends, and unexpected kindnesses from outsiders.

Another bright spot in her life occurs when a new neighbor moves in next door—an Englishman who has been ill and has an Indian servant with a mischievous pet monkey. Sara spotting several items from India through his windows brings back good memories of her life there. An unexpected visit to her attic room by the monkey also introduces her to Ram Dass, the Indian servant, an event that will profoundly affect her life. We get a glimpse into the neighbor's life, Mr. Carrisford, and discover an unexpected connection to Sara. I always love the events of these final chapters. Sara's life goes from immeasurably hard and very close to breaking her spirit to returning her to her previously privileged life. But this time, her experiences give her an added depth of understanding of the world around her and a desire to help others.

I've seen others comment that Sara is "too perfect" or Miss Minchin "too awful." When I read it, I consider that this book was written in 1905. At that time, books for children were deliberately written as moral tales, designed to show children the difference between right and wrong. So, while the characters' attitudes may be somewhat exaggerated, there is enough realism to make them believable. I especially enjoyed seeing that Sara knows how to get under Miss Minchin's skin with a simple look and that she isn't too good to lose her temper now and then.

I also must add that it's hard to talk about this story without mentioning the films that have been made from it. There are three that I am aware of: the 1939 version with Shirley Temple, the 1986 version with Maureen Lipman (a British TV mini-series), and the 1995 version starring Liesel Matthews. In my opinion, only one of them is worth watching. The Shirley Temple version vaguely resembles the book, with an added romance between two characters who don't exist in the story, an odd dream sequence, and a wholly made-up ending resulting in Sara's father still being alive. The 1995 version changes the time and location from Victorian London to World War One New York and again changes the ending to reuniting with her father. The 1987 version, on the other hand, is a faithful adaptation of the book. I loved seeing some of my favorite scenes come alive, from the French lesson to the bun shop scene to the revelation of Sara and "the Indian Gentleman's" connection. I highly recommend this film to anyone who loves the book. (It can be found on YouTube in its original six episodes) ( )
  scoutmomskf | Apr 21, 2022 |
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I read it every few years and each time, it moves me so. The protagonist, Sara, is a child, but her strength in the face of all odds lends the reader strength to face life. ( )
  Chandna_Agarwal | Apr 8, 2022 |
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» Add other authors (139 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burnett, Frances HodgsonAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tudor, TashaIllustratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Armes, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barraud, Herbert RoseAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Betts, Ethel FranklinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Birch, ReginaldIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burns, RebeccaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clary, TimIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Curiace, GismondeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Engelbreit, MaryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardam, JaneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, MargeryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Green, RebeccaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henterly, JamichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
JaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klett, ElizabethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knoepflmacher, U. C.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamberti, LucaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
López, AnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leishman, VirginiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mah, Adeline YenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGinley, PhyllisForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKowen, ScottIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miah, Adeline YenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagetti, CarloIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piffard, HaroldIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rust, GrahamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savage, KarenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shallenberg, KaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tudor, TashaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vielhomme-Callais, PauletteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Once on a dark winter's day, when the yellow fog hung so thick and heavy in the streets of London that the lamps were lighted and the shop windows blazed with gas as they do at night, an odd-looking little girl sat in a cab with her father, and was driven rather slowly through the big thorough-fares.
When people are insulting you, there is nothing so good for them as not to say a word - just look at them and think...when you will not fly into a passion, people know you are stronger than they are, because you are strong enough to hold in your rage and they are not, and they say things they wish they hadn't said afterwards. There's nothing so strong as rage, except what makes you hold it in - that's stronger.
Never did she find anything so difficult as to keep herself from losing her temper when was suddenly disturbed while absorbed in a book. People who are fond of books know the feeling of irritation which sweeps over them at such a moment. The temptation to be unreasonable and snappish is one not easy to manage.
If Nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that -- warm things, kind things, sweet things -- help and comfort and laughter -- and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.
"Perhaps," she said, "to be able to learn things quickly isn't everything. To be kind is worth a great deal to other people. If Miss Minchin knew everything on earth and was like what she is now, she'd still be a detestable thing, and everybody would hate her. Lots of clever people have done harm and have been wicked. Look at Robespierre -- "
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Disambiguation notice
Sara Crewe, or What Happened At Miss Minchin's, the work on which A Little Princess is based, was first written as a serialized novella. It was published in St. Nicholas Magazine in 1888.
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Sara Crewe, a pupil at Miss Minchin's London school, is left in poverty when her father dies but is later rescued by a mysterious benefactor.

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Book description
A kind and wealthy Anglo-Indian girl in a posh British boarding school becomes impoverished after the death of her father and is forced to become a servant at the school, living in an unheated garret, overworked and underfed. Then a mysterious benefactor comes to her rescue.

Available online at The Internet Archive:
Haiku summary
A rich little girl
becomes an orphan and slave
but stays positive.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0142437018, 0141321121, 0141341718

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400101107, 1400108896

Urban Romantics

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