The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Paperback(1st Edition)

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Overview

Mary Lennox is a sour-faced 10-year-old girl, who is born in India to selfish wealthy British parents who had not wanted her and were too wrapped up in their own lives. She was taken care of primarily by servants, who pacify her as much as possible to keep her out of the way. Spoiled and with a temper, she is unaffectionate, angry, rude and obstinate. Later, there is a cholera epidemic which hits India and kills her mother, father and all the servants. She is discovered alone but alive after the house is empty. She is sent to Yorkshire, England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven at his home called Misselthwaite Manor.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607107293
Publisher: Canterbury Classics
Publication date: 04/30/2013
Series: Word Cloud Classics Series
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 212
Sales rank: 547,619
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 970L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Frances Hodgson Burnett (November 24, 1849 – October 29, 1924) was an English playwright and author. She is best known for her children's stories, in particular The Secret Garden (published in 1911), A Little Princess (published in 1905), and Little Lord Fauntleroy (published in 1885-6). She was born in Cheetham, England and in 1865 emigrated to the United States, settling near Knoxville, Tennessee.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER I There Is No One Left
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Secret Garden"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 There Is No One Left, 1,
2 Mistress Mary Quite Contrary, 7,
3 Across the Moor, 15,
4 Martha, 20,
5 The Cry in the Corridor, 36,
6 "There Was Some One Crying — There Was!", 43,
7 The Key of the Garden, 50,
8 The Robin Who Showed the Way, 56,
9 The Strangest House Any One Ever Lived In, 64,
10 Dickon, 74,
11 The Nest of the Missel Thrush, 85,
12 "Might I Have a Bit of Earth?", 93,
13 "I am Colin", 101,
14 A Young Rajah, 114,
15 Nest Building, 125,
16 "I Won't!" Said Mary, 137,
17 A Tantrum, 144,
18 "Tha' Munnot Waste No Time", 151,
19 "It Has Come!", 158,
20 "I Shall Live Forever — and Ever — and Ever!", 169,
21 Ben Weatherstaff, 177,
22 When the Sun Went Down, 187,
23 Magic, 193,
24 "Let Them Laugh", 205,
25 The Curtain, 217,
26 "It's Mother!", 224,
27 In the Garden, 233,

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

Mary Lennox has no one left in the world when she arrives at Misselthwaite Manor, her mysterious uncle's enormous, drafty mansion looming on the edge of the moors. A cholera epidemic has ravaged the Indian village in which she was born, killing both her parents and the "Ayah," or Indian servant, who cared for her. Not that being alone is new to her. Her socialite mother had no time between parties for Mary, and her father was both too ill and too occupied by his work to raise his daughter. Not long after coming to live with her uncle, Mr. Craven, Mary discovers a walled garden, neglected and in ruins. Soon she meets her servant Martha's brother Dickon, a robust country boy nourished both by his mother's love and by the natural surroundings of the countryside; and her tyrannical cousin Colin, whose mother died giving birth to him. So traumatized was Mr. Craven by the sudden death of his beloved wife that he effectively abandoned the infant Colin and buried the keys to the garden that she adored. His son has grown into a self-loathing hypochondriacal child whose tantrums strike fear into the hearts of servants. The lush garden is now overgrown and all are forbidden to enter it. No one can even remember where the door is, until a robin leads Mary to its hidden key. It is in the "secret garden," and with the help of Dickon, that Mary and Colin find the path to physical and spiritual health. Along the way the three children discover that in their imaginations—called "magic" by Colin—is the power to transform lives.

While The Secret Garden is an exquisite children's story, its timeless themes, precisely drawn characters, and taut narrative make it worthy of the serious discussion due any classic novel. It is a tale of redemption, rich with biblical symbolism and mythical associations. In Mr. Craven, his stern brother, and Mary's parents, readers have found evidence of a fallen adult world. Consequently, Mary and Colin are physically and spiritually malnourished, and, in the words of Burnett, down-right rude. Mr. Craven's redemption at the hands of Colin and his niece ensures the return of good rule to the ancient, gloomy house and of health to the children. Dickon—constantly surrounded by fox, lamb, and bird—evokes St. Francis or Pan. His mother, Mrs. Sowerby, a plain-speaking Yorkshire woman, resembles the archetypal earth mother and embodies an ancient folk wisdom seen neither in Craven nor in Mary's deceased parents. Invoking traditional nature myths, Burnett aligns the spiritual growth of Mary and Colin with the seasons. Mary arrives at Misselthwaite in winter a dour and unhealthy child. She begins her gardening in the spring, and as crocuses and daffodils push up through the warming earth, her body begins to bloom and her manners to soften. Summer sees the complete regeneration of both Mary and Colin, and by the time Craven returns to Misselthwaite in autumn, the children are harvesting the fruits of their labor—health and happiness. Finally, the overarching symbol of the book is the secret garden, a lost paradise of love and happiness—a version, perhaps, of the Garden of Eden, now reclaimed and rejuvenated.

Throughout The Secret Garden, Burnett seamlessly intertwines the elements of her craft, moving easily between the teasing narrative and dialogue that speaks to a child and the strands of dramatic development, complex characters, theme, and symbolism. Indeed, it is this extraordinary balance that makes

The Secret Garden not just "one of the most original and brilliant children's books of this century," as Alison Lurie says in her introduction to the Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics edition, but also an enduring novel of ideas.

ABOUT FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT

Frances Eliza Hodgson was born on November 24, 1849, in Manchester, England, the third of Edwin Hodgson's and Eliza Boond's five children. Her father ran a prosperous firm which specialized in the trade of decorative arts for the interiors of houses. At the time, Manchester was experiencing a textile boom which infused the town with a rising middle-class, and because these families were erecting magnificent houses, Hodgson's merchandise was in demand. The prosperity of the Hodgson family was cut short in 1854 when Edwin suffered a stroke. Even more devastating to the family fortune was the American Civil War, which caused a cessation of cotton shipments from Southern plantations, crippling Manchester's economy. Eliza Hodgson decided to emigrate to America, and in 1865, when Burnett was sixteen, the family settled in a small town about twenty-five miles from Knoxville, Tennessee. This move would prove instrumental in Burnett's development as a writer. Although she had always been obsessed with storytelling and often amused her schoolmates by acting out tales of adventure and romance, the financial strain of the emigration caused her to turn to writing as a means of supplementing the family's income. The move from industrial England to rural America was for the family a journey to the green, natural world that would become a central theme in many of Burnett's later works, including The Secret Garden.

Burnett's first published story, "Miss Carruthers' Engagement," appeared in a magazine called Godey's Lady's Book in 1868. After the death of her mother in 1872, the family became increasingly dependent on her writing income. She accelerated her career as a popular writer and sold stories to many magazines. In September of 1873 she married Swann Burnett, a doctor from Tennessee who was preparing to specialize in the treatment of the eye and ear. He wished to further his specialty by studying in Europe, and Burnett financed his wish, once again becoming responsible for the bulk of her family's income. In 1874, she gave birth to her son Lionel and began work on her first major novel, The Lass o' Lowries. The critical response was encouraging, and many reviews compared Burnett's work to that of Charlotte Brontë and Henry James. In 1879 she published her novel Haworth, her first attempt at serious fiction. Later that same year, one of her first children's stories appeared in St. Nicholas, a magazine in which she would publish for years to come. It is at this time that Burnett, who was constantly battling illness, acquainted herself with the philosophies of Spiritualism, Theosophy, Mind Healing, and Christian Science. These philosophies' ideas about the healing powers of the mind became a crucial motif in much of her writing, most notably in A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and The Lost Prince.

In 1886 Little Lord Fauntleroy, the book that transformed Burnett's life, was published. It became a runaway bestseller in America and England. While the success of the book branded Burnett a popular and romantic writer rather than a serious artist, it provided her with enough income to free her from an unhappy marriage and allow her to travel through Europe. In 1890 Burnett's first son Lionel was diagnosed with consumption and died that same year. By 1898, Burnett and Swann divorced by mutual consent, and she leased a country house in England where she immersed herself in her passion for gardening. The estate was surrounded by several walled gardens, one of which, a rose garden, served as her outdoor workroom. It was here that the idea of The Secret Garden was born.

Over the course of her life, Burnett wrote more than forty books, for both adults and children. While her adult novels are considered to be quite sentimental, her children's books have withstood the fickleness of literary fashions. The Secret Garden, the story of how Mary Lennox and her friends find independence as they tend their garden, has been described as one of the most satisfying children's books ever written. Frances Hodgson Burnett died of congestive heart failure on October 29, 1924.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. Martha, in fact, says Mary is "as tyrannical as a pig" and that Colin is the "worst young newt as ever was." Why are both of these children so ill-tempered? Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents? How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the "fallen world of adults"?
     
  • Why does Mary respond so well to Martha? What characteristics of Martha's personality are responsible for awakening the gentleness hidden in Mary? Compare Martha's treatment of Mary to Mary's treatment of Colin. Does it have the same effect on Colin as it does on Mary?
     
  • Upon Mary's first encounter with Dickon, Burnett describes the boy in this way: "His speech was so quick and easy. It sounded as if he liked her and was not the least afraid she would not like him, though he was a common moor boy, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them." What is significant about this passage? Are there any particular motifs that seem to be connected specifically to Dickon?
     
  • Compare Dickon's upbringing with Mary's and Colin's. How is it different? Is it important, or just incidental, that Dickon is a "common moor boy" rather than a member of the "privileged class"?
     
  • Could Mary and Colin have found the path to spiritual and physical healing without Dickon?
     
  • Is Colin's deceased mother's spirit present in the book? Where and when do you sense it the most? Who does she employ as her "agents" of goodwill in the book?
     
  • Misselthwaite Manor is a house of masculine rule, whether it be Mr. Craven's or Colin's rule. The garden, however, is a place of fertility and regrowth. This type of symbolism structures the novel. Where else is this structure manifested in the novel?
     
  • In its theme of the mind's potential for regeneration, The Secret Garden has often been considered a tribute to the "New Thought" movement, which included ideas of Christian Science and Theosophy. How do you feel about this? Do you think that the "magic" employed by Colin was as crucial to his healing as was communion with nature and other living things?
     
  • Discuss the regionalist aspects of the novel, such as the Yorkshire dialects. How do they contribute to the overarching themes of The Secret Garden?
     
  • In your opinion, does Mr. Craven, after subjecting his son to years of neglect, deserve redemption?
     
  • Which narrative features were employed by the author to make The Secret Garden speak to children? Why do you think this novel appeals to an adult audience as well? What makes it a classic?
     
  • Customer Reviews

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    The Secret Garden 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1586 reviews.
    moniema More than 1 year ago
    I am 9 years old, about the same age as Mary the main character in the book. When I first got the book I thought I would not be interested in it. However, I kept on reading and it got really good. The story is very well told, it is easy to follow, the vocabulary is not very hard. You just have to be patient and towards the middle the story gets very interesting. Also at the end of the book there are questions about the story that makes you wonder how you would feel in Mary's situation. My mom felt that this book would be a good introduction to reading good literature, and I agree. I felt it was very educational and appropriate for my reading level. I would recommend it to any girl or boy that is ready for some serious reading.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    The first time I read this book must have been when I was in fourth grade, and I loved it so much and read it many times after that. I had to do a book report and that was when my dad recommended this book to me. I was reluctant to read this book at first, however, I was quickly captured in the magic of this book. It truly opened a door to a new world of a journey in a land of Classic books. I cried while reading this book.. because I'm also very emotional. It's about an arrogant, selfish, and lonely girl who discovers a secret world behind a door. Gradually through the stories she learns to smile, laugh, and be a child. She makes friends for the first time and becomes more bright and glowing then ever! If you don't read this book... you will regret it... Read it and enjoy!!! :)
    Shadow51 More than 1 year ago
    This is a true classic. A girl named Mary Lennox was a selfish, unattractive and disagreeable child. When both her mother and her father dies, she is sent to live in her uncle's mansion. One day she discovers a key that would open a garden that has not been entered in 10 years. She goes into the garden every day and each day she's in there she becomes a little less selfish, a little more attractive , and a little more lovable. This is a must read book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is a great book for anyone from children to adults. A reminder of what childhood can be when we give children what they need.
    thirsting_for_knowledge More than 1 year ago
    as a person that likes the classics with action and books of warfare, i thought my friend was crazy when he recommended this book to me. to be honest, i was very doubtful of the book when i bought it. much to my astonishment, this book is full of moral meaning in life itself; a girl who hasn't been loved at all in her life is sent to live with her uncle. she never loved anyone since she hadn't had anyone love her, and as such, was a very miserly person with no care in the world for a soul around her. as she lives with her uncle in a huge house, she often hears cries coming from the part in the house she is to refrain from going to. one night she ventures in to find her cousin whom she had never even known about; he was much the same as she was, a very horrid person. the girl meets Dickon, a very loving and caring person. his love and care rubs off on her, and in turn, it rubs off on her cousin Colin. all in all, it is a great moral in life at how one person can turn an entire family around with very little influence.
    EmmaAusten More than 1 year ago
    I remember reading this book as a kid but it seemed heavy and difficult back then. After re-reading it I see all that I missed during my first reading. It is a wonderful book full of suspense, sadness, happiness and hope. I really think it should be something that middle school or high school kids read as they are more adult to understand some of the concepts in it. Otherwise I suggest parents read it with your children so you can explain the vernacular and time period. I love the descriptions of the garden and characters. It is correct to be a classic. Read it and get transported to your youth, playing outside and enjoying nature.
    AutismMom More than 1 year ago
    Not the book, but the loads and loads of typos. I downloaded the free version of the ebook to my nook. What a waste. I got so sick of trying to figure out what the book was trying to say, and bought the inexpensive version. I understand that free will not mean fancy, but if they are not even going to bother to at least proofread the typos out of the book, then why bother, it just makes them (Google books) look stupid. However, the book itself, the story, it is a very interesting tale. I am at a part of the book (no, I won't spoil anything) where Mary is discovering the world around her. A classic, and definitely worth a read.
    GordonF More than 1 year ago
    The story is simply told, with a kind of soft flourish that brings everything into vivid life. It's full of the kind of simple magic that fuels some of the best kinds of stories - at once believable, and simultaneously not just magic. The three main children each comes from a different life, a different way of looking at the world - and all three find the common ground as children only can. This is the kind of book that should be read in schools.
    Gracie Dermenjian More than 1 year ago
    I had to read it for school and i loved it
    Gardenseed More than 1 year ago
    Avery nice edition with black and white illustrations, relatively large print and wide margins, give the text an approachable appearance. An orphaned girl, living with a morose uncle in a huge and gloomy English mansion finds the key to a forbidden garden, befriends a cousin who has been living in hiding, and makes friends with all - especially Dickon, a boy who loves animals. This is the only unabridged hard cover edition of this favorite of generations of girls that I could find at this time,2012, and the fact that it is such a nice one make it a truly a treasure. A companion is A Little Princess, from the same publisher. I feel that I have found a treasure and want to share it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Still can not belive that she is yellow but it is a great book i may only be 10 but i know a good book whean i see one this is a classic and i highly recommened it for anyone who is looking for a super good book. My complements to the author.THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!!!!!!:)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is about a selfish, unattractive girl named Mary Lennox. In the beginning, Mary's parents die of cholera and she is moved her uncles mansion called Misslewaithe Manor. There she discovers a secret world behind a door, a friendly robin and three new friends. Each day when she visits her secret world she becomes a little more selfless attractive and a better friend. This is a must-read classic with mystery and adventure around every corner.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    It is so amazing and its so interesting i didnt want to stop reading it
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book tells a story of what can happen when a child sets there mind to somethinh they belive in or what they think is right
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The Secret Garden is an emotional story. It involves drama, love, sadness, and ends in happy way. Though it is a great book it would be challenging for young readers minds.
    trails More than 1 year ago
    I loved this story, and couldn't wait to hear what Mary was up to next.
    GraceC More than 1 year ago
    If you Love the movie you will enjoy the book even more. I remember watching the movie when i was little and just hateing how boring it was, but i just wasnt old enough to appreceate the story. This is not just a childrens stroy now that im older i understand the deeper meanings and it wasnt boring to me at all. its a very good story and if you read it as a kid. You need to go back and read it agian.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love this old book. It is great reading, for anyone 5 & up. As long as you can read. It is about a selfish rich girl who learns to be a great person. She look for a secret garden, meets a reletive she did'nt know about, & makes new friends at her Uncle's manor when she becomes a orphan. I saw the Movie first, it was great too! & it isn't a long book it was only 200 pages! Overall Great Story, you should get it. MorganHorseRiderAnimalLover0298 Age 11 & Homeschooled
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    AUESOME
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love this book!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have not read this book yet but it sounds very interesting . I can't wait to try it! The book sound like it would be good for all ages. I think every one should try it. Don't judge a book by its cover!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Why can't we have more books like this instead of the junk we have now?Great book anyhow.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    If yu bu the humming room book it also has the real story of the secret garden too. Awsome!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is awsome!!!!!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The characters were well brought and put together in the story. The last time i read this book was in 5th grade and all i can remember is falling in love with the spooky house the little girl had to live in. This is a charished novel and now i know why and it should be free on barnes and noble because it is so ingrossing. It was well worth the time it took for me to read it