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What Katy Read pp 172-191 | Cite as

Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden

  • Shirley Foster
  • Judy Simons

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Fairy Tale Woman Writer Mother Figure Narrative Voice Female Power 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Froebel, System of Infant Gardens (1855), quoted in Juliet Dusinberre, Alice to the Lighthouse: Childrens Books and Radical Experiments in Art (London: Macmillan, 1987).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jacqueline Rose, The Case of Peter Pan or The Impossibility of Childrens Literature (London: Macmillan, 1984), p.84.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See, for example, Laurie Langbauer, Women and Romance: the Consolations of Gender in the English Novel (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1990);Google Scholar
  4. Rosalind Miles, The Female Form: Women Writers and the Conquest of the Novel (London and New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987);Google Scholar
  5. Jean Radford, The Progress of Romance: The Politics of Popular Fiction (London: Routledge, 1986).Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    Karen E. Rowe, ‘Feminism and Fairy Tales’, Womens Studies, 1979, vol. 6, p.248.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), p.10. All subsequent references are to this edition and are included in the text.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    Roderick McGillis, ‘“Secrets” and “Sequence” in Children’s Stories”’, Studies in the Literary Imagination, 1985, Fall, vol. 18 (2) p.37.Google Scholar
  9. 7.
    See particularly Fred Inglis, The Promise of Happiness: Value and Meaning in Children’s Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981);Google Scholar
  10. Ann Thwaite, Waiting for the Party: The Life of Frances Hodgson Burnett 1849–1924 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1974).Google Scholar
  11. 8.
    Elizabeth Lennox Keyser, ‘Quite Contrary: Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden’, Children’s Literature: An International Journal, The Modern Language Association Division of Children’s Literature, 1983, vol. 11, pp.1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 9.
    Quoted in Thwaite, op.cit. p.52.Google Scholar
  13. 10.
    Peter Keating, The Haunted Study: A Social History of the English Novel1875–1914 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1987), p.220.Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture1830–1980 (London: Virago Press, 1987), p.128.Google Scholar
  15. 12.
    Claudia Marquis, ‘The Power of Speech: Life in The Secret Garden’, Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association, 1987, Nov., vol. 68, pp.163–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 14.
    Phyllis Bixler Koppes, Frances Hodgson Burnett (Boston: Twayne, 1984), p.100.Google Scholar
  17. 16.
    Anthea Trodd: A Readers Guide to Edwardian Literature (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), p.72.Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    Humphrey Carpenter, Secret Gardens: The Golden Age of Childrens Literature (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1985), p.189.Google Scholar

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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