Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden has been described as “the most significant children’s book of the 20th century.”
First published in 1911, after being serialised in The American Magazine, it was dismissed by one critic at the time as simple and lacking “plenty of excitement”. The novel is, in fact, a sensitive and complex story, which explores how a relationship with nature can foster our emotional and physical well-being. It also reveals anxieties about national identity at a time of the British Empire, drawing on ideas of Christian Science.
The Secret Garden has been read by generations, remains a fixture on children’s publishing lists today and has inspired several film versions. A new film, starring Colin Firth, Dixie Egerickx and Amir Wilson, updates the story in some ways for modern audiences.
The book opens as nine-year-old Mary Lennox