Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy Birthday to THE SECRET GARDEN - 2011 is its Centennial Year!

Did you know there is a REAL garden that inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett?
It is the kitchen garden of Great Maytham Hall, Rolvenden, in Kent, England, 
where she lived for ten years in the 1890's.  You can read about it HERE.

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of THE SECRET GARDEN, Frances Hodgson Burnett's beautiful story that has been a favorite of generations of girls (and boys) everywhere.  I loved the unfamiliar setting, wonderful characters, and riveting plot this book introduced me to as a child:  the lonely moors of Yorkshire, mysterious Misselthwaite Manor, a lost key to a hidden door, a tangled and abandoned garden, spoiled orphan Mary Lennox, her lonely Uncle Archibald, her hidden away-sickly-cousin-Colin, and kindhearted Dicken.

And of course, who can forget her little friend, the Robin...

"She stopped and listened to him and somehow his cheerful, friendly little whistle gave her a pleased feeling--even a disagreeable little girl may be lonely, and the big closed house and big bare moor and big bare gardens had made this one feel as if there was no one left in the world but herself. If she had been an affectionate child, who had been used to being loved, she would have broken her heart, but even though she was "Mistress Mary Quite Contrary" she was desolate, and the bright-breasted little bird brought a look into her sour little face which was almost a smile. She listened to him until he flew away. He was not like an Indian bird and she liked him and wondered if she should ever see him again. Perhaps he lived in the mysterious garden and knew all about it."

At its heart, the story is about two "disagreeable" children, Mary Lennox and Colin Craven, who, while transforming a dead and forgotten garden, are equally transformed themselves, as they cultivate a deep and enduring friendship.  "Two things cannot be in one place.  Where you tend a rose, a thistle cannot grow."  The garden becomes a place of healing for them as well as for Colin's lonely father, Archibald.

Centenary Edition with over 70 illustrations
by Robert Ingpen.  
Centenary edition, illustrated by
Lauren Child, due out Sept. 2011.
This beautiful edition with
embroidered cover design by
Jillian Tamaki, is due out in October 2011

This was the edition that introduced me, as a child, to Burnett's THE SECRET GARDEN.  Beautifully illustrated by Tasha Tudor, it was first published in 1962.
Below is the first published edition of THE SECRET GARDEN, with illustrations by M.B. Kork, published in 1911 in its entirety (it had previously been published in serial format in American Magazine).
(photo courtesy of Project Gutenberg)
Another illustrator of an early edition
was Charles Robinson.

Illustrations by Inga Moore. 
 Graham Rust, illustrator.
Michael Hague's depictions.
JUST FOR FUN:  For any of you die-hard fans out there, take this SECRET GARDEN QUIZ and see how much you remember about this classic book!


  1. thanks for the link ;o)
    I love 'the secret garden' almost as much as alice... I have a copy with the illustrations of Inga Moore, I do Love her drawings very much, and the story is absolutly lovely...I can read it again and again ;o)
    I am also a big fan of tasha tudor, but I never saw her drawings in real...
    I do have a photobook of her garden...

  2. I'll have to see if I can get a copy for myself with Inga Moore's illustrations. Her depiction of the garden is lush! Tasha Tudor's are just very old fashioned and sweet - they bring back good memories for me... :)

  3. Inga Moore gets my vote, her work is delightful.

  4. This book somehow materialised in my bookshelf - I have no rememberance buying it and my then boy-friend when I found it said he didn't brought it to my house...
    I haven't read it by now but always when I come across it online I remember it - just wanted to share.