The Secret Garden: The author

 

Frances Hodgson Burnett was born in Manchester, Great Britain, on 24 November 1849, and died in New York, USA, on 29 October 1924. She was an American writer of British origin.

The death of her father brought the family into ruin, so they had to emigrate to the United States in 1865. Here, Frances earned a living by writing poems and short stories. At the age of 23, she married doctor P. Burnett, with whom she had two children. In 1877 she published her first story, That Lass o’ Lowries, but she only gained a reputation after publishing Little Lord Fauntleroy (1885) and consolidated her popularity with A Little Princess (1905) and The Secret Garden (1910), which completed her trilogy of children’s books.

In 1901 she divorced doctor Swan M. Burnett and she married again, this time with Stephen Townsend, whom she also divorced. Having divorced twice and also having lost her eldest son, she settled to Bermuda and then in Long Island, where she embraced gardening, theosophy and spiritualism, until her death in 1924.

The Secret Garden becomes an important environmental message, in which the garden changes metaphorically into a place that teaches us to be ourselves. The garden is loaded with symbols about life, death, sickness and health, and brings a unique vision that the young can advance toward among their confusion. From this point of view, The Secret Garden is a small step that accompanies us throughout our youth and helps us see the Earth as a rich universe, full of lessons abut how to be more human.

All her works retain the theme of the different social classes and changes of luck.

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The Secret Garden Story is well known

Mary Lennox, a homely but bossy girl, lives in India with her parents who work for the British government; her mother parades her beauty from party to party. As a nine-year-old, Mary is only busy making life miserable for the servants responsible for her upbringing; however, one night something happens that will change everything: a terrible cholera outbreak kills her parents. The little girl is sent to northern England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, who is said to be a grumpy hunchback with such a bad mood, that he doesn’t allow anybody to approach him. The girl travels all this way to find herself alone in a mansion that has over a hundred doors (most of them locked and bolted), and on whose halls a mysterious cry can be heard (that of Colin Craven). Later, she finds a walled garden that has not been opened in ten years, befriends a robin redbreast, a boy who has a soft way with animals (Dickon), an old sulky gardener and she also finds a hidden key. Page after page, the secrets and mysteries come one after another in this beautiful and immortal book, fascinating and able to touch the readers through the magical power of literature.

Book Review: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden becomes an important environmental message, in which the garden changes metaphorically into a place that teaches us to be ourselves. The garden is loaded with symbols about life, death, sickness and health, and brings a unique vision that the young can advance toward. From this point of view, The Secret Garden is a small step that accompanies us throughout our youth and helps us see the Earth as a rich universe, full of lessons abut how to be more human.

Ana Belén Ramos, editor and translator of the book, writes in the Introduction:

“Lost principles, extremely poor children that inherit a great fortune, rich and noble people who possess everything, but who need to discover friendship, love and the beauty of life, orphans who meet their family among strangers; dangerous and selfish love relationships, and also love so pure and bright that lasts beyond death; loyalty vows that are upheld in spite of all hardships, secret rebellions against bloodthirsty governments, battles, mysterious secret meetings, intrigue, phantasm, adventure. This is the writing of Frances Hodgson Burnett, the literature that makes us dream.”

The edition presented here is a translation of the first edition of The Secret Garden, published in New York by Frederick A. Stokes Company, in 1911. We can see that the style of the author is clear and simple, always fit for the story, and I would like to highlight the beauty, humor and ability of evocation that the narration displays.

This is one of the secrets behind the success of this edition, and Ana Belén Ramos has managed to keep in her translation the emotion and personality of the original book which has captivated readers generation after generation, due to its plot, theme and eloquence.