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The Secret Garden (1911)

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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27,51848679 (4.14)889
Ten-year-old Mary comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors and discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden.
1910s (30)
Garden (5)

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English (470)  Italian (5)  German (3)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (1)  Arabic (1)  All languages (483)
Showing 1-5 of 470 (next | show all)
I find it hard to believe that this book wasn't at all on my radar in childhood. We had well-stocked school libraries and teacher/school librarians. Unfortunately, though, book talks and reader's advisory were not a thing. I had friends who were voracious readers and they recommended titles to me, but not this one.

In any case, I finally got to this classic but fairly simply plotted story about the transformation of a sour, spoiled young English girl, Mary Lennox, whose parents die of cholera in Colonial India. Mary is sent back to England to Misselthwaite Manor in Yorkshire, the home of her mother's brother, Archibald Craven. Mr. Craven is a remote figure, still bowed low by grief ten years after his lively, beloved wife accidentally died in the garden she loved so much. An old tree branch she was sitting on broke, and she fell to her death. Mr. Craven spends most of the year away from the manor. He can't bear to be in the place he once so happily shared with her. Her garden has been left alone. All are apparently forbidden to enter it.

Mary, who is largely left to her own devices, discovers this secret garden one day. A friendly little male robin appears to beckon her to come in, guiding her to a once-buried key to a garden door hidden under a thick growth of ivy. The young maid, Martha, who attends to Mary at the manor, has a younger brother, Dickon, a friend to all plants and animals. He speaks the language of birds, squirrels, lambs, and foxes, and hasn't a mean bone in his body. Mary's introduction to Dickon and her sharing the secret garden with him are her salvation.

There is, of course, one more surprise. Mary also has a secret cousin, Archibald Craven's invalid son: Colin. He is, in many ways, like Mary herself--about the same age, pathologically spoiled, and deeply unpleasant. All the adults have led him to believe he has inherited his father's spinal deformity. He's been bed-bound and sequestered for most of his life. Mary discovers him because he's prone to violent tantrums and sessions of wild weeping, which she can hear at some distance from his room in the large house. The curious girl follows the sounds of crying one night and finds him. Ultimately, she takes him in hand, scolding him as only one spoilt child can another. She also offers stories, including one about the magical secret garden and another about a boy who can communicate with animals.

Well before people were writing books about "nature-deficit syndrome," Burnett was aware of the restorative power of the natural world. Mary's friendship with Colin, her introducing him to Dickon and the garden prove to be his salvation as well.

I can imagine that some members of the Woke crowd might not be too keen on the Colonial Anglo-Indian elements in this children's novel, the intimations that South-Asian servants are somehow less than the ruling English who used them as servants. If Farley Mowat's wonderful [book:Owls in the Family|785656] can be purged from school libraries, just about anything can be, it would seem. Some of the vocabulary Burnett regularly uses has also taken on very different meanings. I'm thinking of the word "queer" in particular.

Overall, though, I can't see how anyone could object to this lovely novel maintaining a special place in the canon of beloved children's literature. ( )
  fountainoverflows | May 5, 2021 |
I did not like this as much as I liked The Little Princess bu the same author. ( )
  afrozenbookparadise | Apr 22, 2021 |
“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” ( )
  FernForest | Apr 19, 2021 |
A childhood favorite that I return to often. ( )
  mbellucci | Apr 10, 2021 |
My favourite book of the year ( )
  abi.reads | Mar 19, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 470 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burnett, Frances HodgsonAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agutter, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
ArcadyIllustrationssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bailey, JosephineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bailey, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barrett, AngelaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bauman, JillIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bawden, NinaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, BarbaraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carpenter, NancyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carter, Helena BonhamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caswell, KellyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Child, LaurenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christenson, HannahArtistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cockcroft, JasonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Collier, MaryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cross, GillianForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahl, SophieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dellaporta, PenelopeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Design, PeartreePhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Devine, PhilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallagher, SusanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gerding, LauraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gerzina,Gretchen HolbrookEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, Sandra M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gillan, KarenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graham, EleanorEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gratias, CaroleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hague, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hömke, FriedelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Høverstad, Torstein BuggeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hewetson, NicholasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoff, GerdTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howell, TroyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, FinolaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, ShirleyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingpen, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, CillaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karhulahti, SariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaster, Shelley AustinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kincaid, EricIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kliros, TheaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knight, KathrynEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Konigsburg, E.L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kork, M. B.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lauter, RichardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrie, RobinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lermuzeaux, AntoineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lurie, AlisonContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marklew, GillyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marks, AlanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maroney, VanessaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, Ann MatthewsIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Masterman, DodieIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mayer, FelixTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Müller, KlausIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCaddon, WandaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKowen, ScottIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McNulty, FaithAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, KathyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, IngaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muller, JillIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Numminen, EmiliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Partridge, Tompaper engineersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Portugal, Roberto G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reim, RiccardoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rinaldi, AngeloCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rozier-GaudriaultIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rust, GrahamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanderson, RuthIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savage, KarenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sebold, AliceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shallenberg, KaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shepard, Ernest HIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
South, AnnaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutton, JudithIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swan, ToiniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamaki, JillianIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Terrazzini, Daniela JaglenkaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, JennyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tudor, TashaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tudor, TashaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Twinn, ColinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Unwin, Nora S.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Veegens-Latorf, E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, JohannaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Włodarkiewiczowa, JadwigaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen.
The seeds Dickon and Mary had planted grew as if fairies had tended them. Satiny poppies of all tints danced in the breeze by the score, gaily defying flowers which had lived in the garden for years and which it might be confessed seemed rather to wonder how such new people had got there. And the roses—the roses! Rising out of the grass, tangled round the sundial, wreathing the tree trunks, and hanging from their branches, climbing up the walls and spreading over them with long garlands falling in cascades—they came alive day by day, hour by hour. Fair, fresh leaves and buds— and buds—tiny at first, but swelling and working Magic until they burst and uncurled into cups of scent delicately spilling themselves over their brims and filling the garden air.
And over walls and earth and trees and swinging sprays and tendrils the fair green veil of tender little leaves had crept, and in the grass under the trees and the gray urns in the alcoves and here and there everywhere were touches or splashes of gold and purple and white and the trees were showing pink and snow above his head and there were fluttering of wings and faint sweet pipes and humming and scents and scents. And the sun fell warm upon his face like a hand with a lovely touch. And in wonder Mary and Dickon stood and stared at him.
They always called it Magic and indeed it seemed like it in the months that followed--the wonderful months--the radiant months--the amazing ones. Oh! the things which happened in that garden! If you have never had a garden you cannot understand, and if you have had a garden you will know that it would take a whole book to describe all that came to pass there. At first it seemed that green things would never cease pushing their way through the earth, in the grass, in the beds, even in the crevices of the walls. Then the green things began to show buds and the buds began to unfurl and show color, every shade of blue, every shade of purple, every tint and hue of crimson. In its happy days flowers had been tucked away into every inch and hole and corner. Ben Weatherstaff had seen it done and had himself scraped out mortar from between the bricks of the wall and made pockets of earth for lovely clinging things to grow on. Iris and white lilies rose out of the grass in sheaves, and the green alcoves filled themselves with amazing armies of the blue and white flower lances of tall delphiniums or columbines or campanulas. "She was main fond o' them--she was", Ben Weatherstaff said.
It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of climbing roses which were so thick that they were matted together. Mary Lennox knew they were roses because she had seen a great many roses in India. All the ground was covered with grass of a wintry brown and out of it grew clumps of bushes which were surely rosebushes if they were alive. There were numbers of standard roses which had so spread their branches that they were like little trees. There were other trees in the garden, and one of the things which made the place look strangest and loveliest was that climbing roses had run all over them and swung down long tendrils which made light swaying curtains, and here and there they had caught at each other or at a far-reaching branch and had crept from one tree to another and made lovely bridges of themselves. There were neither leaves nor roses on them now and Mary did not know whether they were dead or alive, but their thin gray or brown branches and sprays looked like a sort of hazy mantle spreading over everything, walls, and trees, and even brown grass, where they had fallen from their fastenings and run along the ground. It was this hazy tangle from tree to tree which made it all look so mysterious. Mary had thought it must be different from other gardens which had not been left all by themselves so long; and indeed it was different from any other place she had ever seen in her life.
There had once been a flowerbed in it, and she thought she saw something sticking out of the black earth- -some sharp little pale green points. She remembered what Ben Weatherstaff had said and she knelt down to look at them. "Yes, they are tiny growing things and they might be crocuses or snowdrops or daffodils," she whispered. She bent very close to them and sniffed the fresh scent of the damp earth. She liked it very much. "Perhaps there are some other ones coming up in other places," she said. "I will go all over the garden and look." She did not skip, but walked. She went slowly and kept her eyes on the ground. She looked in the old border beds and among the grass, and after she had gone round, trying to miss nothing, she had found ever so many more sharp, pale green points, and she had become quite excited again. "It isn't a quite dead garden," she cried out softly to herself. "Even if the roses are dead, there are other things alive." She did not know anything about gardening, but the grass seemed so thick in some of the places where the green points were pushing their way through that she thought they did not seem to have room enough to grow. She searched about until she found a rather sharp piece of wood and knelt down and dug and weeded out the weeds and grass until she made nice little clear places around them. "Now they look as if they could breathe," she said, after she had finished with the first ones. "I am going to do ever so many more. I'll do all I can see. If I haven't time today I can come tomorrow." She went from place to place, and dug and weeded, and enjoyed herself so immensely that she was led on from bed to bed and into the grass under the trees.
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Ten-year-old Mary comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors and discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden.

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AR 6.3, Pts 13

One of the illustrators of The Secret Garden, Inga Moore, says, “I read a passage describing how Mary feels when she first sees the robin, sitting in a tree, singing its winter song.   The image of the little girl in the big, bare garden looking up at this tiny point of color and life leaped into my mind and asked to be drawn.”
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Average: (4.14)
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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0142437050, 0141321067, 0141336536, 0143106457, 0141331763

Candlewick Press

2 editions of this book were published by Candlewick Press.

Editions: 0763631612, 0763647322

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100720, 1400108446

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909438545, 1909438553

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