RESEARCH | The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

4 Dec

When I was a student learning how to become a guybrarian, I took a number of children’s literature courses and was delighted when La Trobe University in Australia accepted my paper about Frances Hodgson Burnett for publication.

The Secret Garden was the original The Secret — a New Thought parable written for an adult audience one hundred years. The real secret of this garden is that it has, over the course of its long life, found its way into the hearts and minds of so many generations of children.


Few children’s novels have been analyzed as much as The Secret Garden. Critical readings of the novel have filtered Frances Hodgson Burnett’s story through the lens of sexual awakening, class conflict, feminist and post-colonial theory, primitivism, and paganism. This novel is more than a children’s book — part of The Secret Garden’s longevity and “classic” status is that it appeals to adults. Indeed, it is a summation of an author’s belief system deliberately aimed at readers of all ages. 

This study explores the author’s life through her belief system(s) and how she incorporated her ideas about life and death in her masterpiece, a “Beautiful Thought” fable that has endured because of its essential truthfulness in characterization and message.

Frances Hodgson Burnett

by Herbert Rose Barraud
carbon print on card mount, published 1888
9 5/8 in. x 6 7/8 in. (245 mm x 175 mm)
acquired, 1950
Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery Photographs Collection
NPG x5179

“Frances Hodgson Burnett in garden” courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery Image ID: 1664096

The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature > Forget the Devil and Keep Your Pink Lamps Lighted: The Metaphysics of Frances Hodgson’s The Secret Garden

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: