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The Secret Garden

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  1. The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson-Burnett

  2. The reception of the book • While The Secret Garden is now catalogued as Children's Literature, it was originally serialised in a magazine for adults before being published in its entirety in 1911. • Marketed to both young and adult readers, it had lukewarm success and became little more than a footnote in Burnett's prolific career. • Her other novels, such as (Sara Crewe) or A Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy, were far more popular at the time of her death in 1924.

  3. Childhood • The 1900s introduced what Reynolds (2011) terms, a ‘spate of lively girl characters’ • The girls may have had their own stories, but they included particular ideas about girls. • This session will conclude by looking at ‘Anne’ from Anne of Green Gables (1908) – to consider how ‘Mary’ is very different to such girls as ‘Anne’, ‘Pollyanna’ and ‘Rebecca’ (Sunnybrook Farm).

  4. Nature • From the beginning of the 20th Century, Anglo –American books for children depicted childhood as associated with nature. • Dickon is the embodiment of ‘Pan’ and Rousseau’s ‘Emile’. • The desire to gain entry into the garden is somewhat Edenic, except that the garden in question has been responsible for Mrs Craven’s death.

  5. Looking for the Garden •

  6. The Gothic • The novel does not always offer comfortable ideas about childhood and nature. • The ‘queer’ and the ‘sick’ combine to produce ‘secrets’. This suggest connections with earlier novels about childhood – like Jane Eyre and Estella in Great Expectations. • These secrets are about parentage, inheritance and secret rooms.

  7. Collin •

  8. A feminist text? • It has been argued that this novel is an example of feminist children’s literature, Carroll (2011) because Mary is able to influence events. • She is also headstrong and given freedom. • But there is the question of the ending of the novel.

  9. Collin is able to walk • There is no explanation of his illness – but, there is the suggestion that the power of nature has cured him. • The time between Mary finding the garden and Collin’s return to health is nine months. • The garden is a symbol of the mother, but the restoration of the Craven lineage is about the father. Why do you think this happens?

  10. Class and restoration •