A richly imaginative tale that cleverly inverts many of the popular cliches of children's books, Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden" is edited with an introduction by Alison Lurie in "Penguin Classics". After the death of her parents in India, sullen and self-absorbed Mary Lennox is sent to live on her uncle's estate, Misselthwaite Manor, an enormous, drafty mansion looming on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. Exploring the grounds, Mary discovers a walled garden, neglected and in ruins; and in a distant room in the house she finds a cousin she never knew existed - Colin, an invalid, ignored by his father and expecting to die. Mary and Dickon, the housemaid's spirited brother, befriend Colin, and set about restoring the garden, which opens up a world of magic, reconciling the children to the world of life. Originally published in 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden" is an extraordinary novel that has influenced writers such as T.S. Eliot and D.H. Lawrence, bringing to life the transformative powers of love, joy and nature, and of mystical faith and positive thinking. Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) was born in Manchester, England. After her father's death in 1865, her mother moved the family to rural Tennessee, where they struggled to earn a living. At seventeen, Burnett sold her first story to a magazine, and by the time she was twenty-two she had earned enough to return to England. Burnett wrote a number of popular novels for adults, but is mainly remembered for her children's novels: "Little Lord Fauntleroy" (1886), "A Little Princess" (1905), and "The Secret Garden" (1911). If you enjoyed "The Secret Garden", you might like Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women", also available in "Penguin Classics". "One of the most original and brilliant children's books of the twentieth century". (Alison Lurie).
Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; "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 roses which were so thick, that they matted together.... 'No wonder it is still,' Mary whispered. 'I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'" As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin's sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden's portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived. (Ages 9 to 12)