The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - is a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett first published in book form in 1911, after serialisation in The American Magazine (November 1910 - August 1911). Set in England, it is one of Burnett's most popular novels and seen as a classic of English children's literature. Several stage and film adaptations have been made. The American edition was published by the Frederick A. Stokes Company with illustrations by Maria Louise Kirk (signed as M. L. Kirk) and the British edition by Heinemann with illustrations by Charles Heath Robinson.
At the turn of the 20th century, Mary Lennox is a neglected and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in British India to wealthy British parents who never wanted her and made an effort to ignore her. She is cared for primarily by native servants, who allow her to become spoilt, demanding and self-centred. After a cholera epidemic kills Mary's parents, the few surviving servants flee the house without Mary.
She is discovered by British soldiers who place her in the temporary care of an English clergyman, whose children taunt her by calling her "Mistress Mary, quite contrary". She is soon sent to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, whom her father's sister Lilias married. He lives on the Yorkshire Moors in a large English country house, Misselthwaite Manor. When escorted to Misselthwaite by the housekeeper Mrs Medlock, she discovers Lilias Craven is dead and that Mr Craven is a hunchback.
At first, Mary is as sour and rude as ever. She dislikes her new home, the people living in it and, most of all, the bleak moor on which it sits. Over time, she becomes less temperamental and befriends her maid, Martha Sowerby, who tells Mary about Lilias, who would spend hours in a private walled garden growing roses. Lilias Craven died after an accident in the garden ten years prior, and the devastated Archibald locked the garden and buried the key.
Mary becomes interested in finding the secret garden herself, and her ill manners begin to soften as a result. Soon, she comes to enjoy the company of Martha, the gardener Ben Weatherstaff and a friendly robin redbreast. Her health and attitude improve with the bracing Yorkshire air, and she grows stronger as she explores the estate gardens. Mary wonders about the secret garden and about mysterious cries that echo through the house at night.
As Mary explores the gardens, the robin draws her attention to an area of disturbed soil. Here, Mary finds the key to the locked garden, and eventually she discovers the door to the garden. She asks Martha for garden tools, which Martha sends with Dickon, her 12-year-old brother, who spends most of his time out on the moors. Mary and Dickon take a liking to each other, as Dickon has a kind way with animals and a good nature. Eager to absorb his gardening knowledge, Mary tells him about the secret garden.