Lit Loves: Why We Still Think About The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden was my very first favorite book — the very first one that swept me away into another world and made me care about the characters as much as any friend I’d ever had. From the beginning, when Mary sits alone and pats dead flowers into dry earth, to the end when Colin runs to his father, I was with them in a way that I’d never felt before. I can’t imagine who I’d be without that experience, and I think it’s the perfect book to share for May. We’re still getting more than our share of showers here in Pittsburgh, but the flowers are showing their faces, too.

secret garden
Image via Amazon

If you’re not familiar with the book (or one of the many adaptations), The Secret Garden is the story of Mary Lennox, “the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen.” Raised in India, she becomes the lone survivor of an illness that claims both her parents. After the tragedy, she’s packed off to her uncle in Misselthwaite Manor on the moors in England. As spring gradually creeps into the garden outside of the manor, Mary’s cold, hard heart also thaws. A robin helps her find the key to the locked garden, and she sets out to make it her own. She befriends a local boy named Dickon, then her shut-in hypochondriac cousin Colin, and the three of them take on the daunting task of improving Colin’s health.

The descriptions in the book are poetic, evocative, and lovely, and the language captures the feeling of wonder that the characters feel for the green, growing things in their secret garden.

Images via Wikipedia

Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote The Secret Garden in 1910 while visiting Buile Hill Park. She was born in the late 1800s in England and moved to Tennessee with her family after the American Civil War. She started writing early on, and saw her talent as her best hope to turn her fortunes around — she sold her first story before her 18th birthday, and worked as a writer for the rest of her life. As an adult, she was her family’s primary bread-winner. She also penned the classic tales Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess.

In addition to writing, she also enjoyed socializing and travel, and she was a pretty impressive dresser, as you can see here.


Images via Wikipedia

Are you looking for some springtime inspiration? Check out these magical garden-worthy offerings, and share what books have influence you in the comments!

About Jamie

Jamie loves reading and writing, and she's especially fond of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She also enjoys RPGs (both tabletop and console), crocheting, baking, and hiking, and she's passionate about unicorns, tea, flannel shirts, novelty socks, and William Shatner.

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  1. Jordyn 05/22/2014 at 9:17 pm #

    The Secret Garden will always have a special place in my heart. After my first year of college, I was having second thoughts on the major I had originally chosen. During that summer, I watched The Secret Garden so many times, I could not get enough of it. I loved the lush gardens and started thinking about changing my major to Horticulture because of this movie. That next school year I did and it was the best decision I ever made. Im now working to become a florist and loving every second of it.

  2. 'Becca'lise Deveaux 05/23/2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Aw, that first image is the same cover I had growing up. I recently listened to it on a free audiobook from Librivox read by Karen Savage…it was fantastic.

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