What Katy Read pp 172-191 | Cite as

Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden

  • Shirley Foster
  • Judy Simons


Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911) takes up the subjects of orphanhood, illness and the autonomous world of childhood, which characterize a number of fictions for girls in the late Victorian period. The fantasies of female power which the novel projects so powerfully remain, however, tantalizingly unresolved as the tensions in the text between authority, gender and social class gradually become more pronounced, and the achievements of the heroine correspondingly marginalized. Like The Wide, Wide World and Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden focuses on the experience of juvenile isolation and alienation and follows the adaptation of a young girl to a new and initially disturbing environment. Unlike earlier texts, however, the moral emphases are subordinated to a more searching psychological dimension. In its focus on processes of socialization the story of The Secret Garden follows a regenerative path, with pervasive images of death and debility transformed to those of life and energy.


Fairy Tale Woman Writer Mother Figure Narrative Voice Female Power 
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Copyright information

© Shirley Foster and Judy Simons 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shirley Foster
    • 1
  • Judy Simons
    • 2
  1. 1.University of SheffieldUK
  2. 2.Sheffield Hallam UniversityUK

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