The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden, a real children’s classic, has been cherished by generations of readers since its first appearance in 1911. In what is certainly the most beautiful full color edition of this acknowledged children’s classic, Mary Lennox, a sullen, spoiled child, comes to live with her English uncle after her parents’ deaths. Implanted in Misselthwaite Manor on the baleful moors of Yorkshire, she meets a hearty housekeeper and her spirited brother, a dear gardener, a cheerful robin, and Master Colin, her willful, mysterious, sickly cousin. The robin helps Mary find the door to the secret garden, and from there the story takes the reader on a spellbinding journey into the places of the heart where faith restores health, where flowers refresh the spirit, and where the magic of a garden coming to life after years of neglect serves as a metaphor for the miraculous recovery of a bed-ridden boy.

The characters and the story are as fresh today as they were when the book was first published. Graham Rust’s illustrations, with their delicate period flavor and detail, bring to life the whole cast of characters and, of course, the secret garden itself – “the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place anyone could imagine.”

Frances Hodgson Burnett was an American-English novelist and playwright. She is best known for the three children’s novels Little Lord Fauntleroy (published in 1885–1886), A Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1911).

Frances Eliza Hodgson was born in Cheetham, England. After her father died in 1852, the family fell on straitened circumstances and in 1865 immigrated to the United States, settling near Knoxville, Tennessee. There Frances began writing to help earn money for the family, publishing stories in magazines from the age of 19. In 1870 her mother died, and in 1872 Frances married Swan Burnett, who became a medical doctor. The Burnetts lived for two years in Paris, where their two sons were born, before returning to the United States to live in Washington, D.C., Burnett then began to write novels, the first of which (That Lass o’ Lowrie’s), was published to good reviews. Little Lord Fauntleroy was published in 1886 and made her a popular writer of children’s fiction, although her romantic adult novels written in the 1890s were also popular. She wrote and helped to produce stage versions of Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess.

Burnett enjoyed socializing and lived a lavish lifestyle. Beginning in the 1880s, she began to travel to England frequently and in the 1890s bought a home there where she wrote The Secret Garden. Her oldest son, Lionel, died of tuberculosis in 1890, which caused a relapse of the depression she had struggled with for much of her life. She divorced Swan Burnett in 1898, married Stephen Townsend in 1900, and divorced Townsend in 1902. A few years later she settled in Nassau County, Long Island, where she died in 1924 and is buried in Roslyn Cemetery.

In 1936 a memorial sculpture by Bessie Potter Vonnoh was erected in her honour in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden. The statue depicts her two famous Secret Garden characters, Mary and Dickon.

Graham Redgrave-Rust was born in Hertfordshire, England, and studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic School of Art, The Central School of Arts and Crafts, and The National Academy of Art in New York. In addition to his book illustrations, he is internationally renowned for his murals and ceiling paintings, which can be found in grand homes around the world. The most spectacular of these, “The Temptation” at the Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, took over a decade to complete. He lives and works in Suffolk, England.