Review: Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden by Angelica Shirley Carpenter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved finding out more about this author’s life! What an interesting character she had! I love that she had such an independent spirit in a time when women didn’t enjoy much freedom. “I do what I want” seems to have been her motto.
She wrote about 60 novels and over a hundred short stories, but most of them are out of print these days. I love her books, and I’m always searching for those obscure out-of-print editions.

My favorite tidbits about her life:
1. Frances loved dressing up in frilly outfits, earning her the nickname “Fluffy”.

2. As teens, Frances and her sister picked berries and sold them in a market. They used the money to buy paper, ink, and stamps for Frances to write her stories and send them to magazines. She published her first story at the age of 18.

3. She was married twice and divorced twice in a time when divorce was scandalous. She did what was best for her despite public opinion.

4. She rented a house with a walled garden where she planted dozens of rose bushes, and befriended a robin there. Just like the Secret Garden! She also wrote a short story from the viewpoint of the robin.

5. Her youngest son, Vivian, was the inspiration for the character of Cedric in Little Lord Faunterloy. The illustrator of the book based his art off a photograph of Vivian with long curls.

6. When Frances’ eldest son, Lionel, died, she started writing stories about ghosts who visit their families. She studied spiritualism, attended seances, and believed that the dead are never far away from us.

7. Near the end of her life, Frances wrote,
“When you have a Garden,
You have a Future.
And when you have a Future,
You are Alive!”

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One thought on “Review: Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden

  1. Interesting! I didn’t know about this book, but The Secret Garden was the book that got me loving books as a girl. I kept trying other things that were popular at the time (like James and the Giant Peach) and couldn’t get into them. Once I read the Secret Garden I had a general idea of what I liked and then went on to Anne of Green Gables and similar stuff before getting really into sci-fi, fantasy and myth. My instagram bio still says “If I could be a literary character it would be Mary Lennox.’

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