Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden

A biography for young readers by Angelica Shirley Carpenter & Jean Shirley
Lerner Publications, 1990, 128 pages
Hardcover ISBN 0-8225-4905-0  Paperback ISBN 0-8225-9610-5

A Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

This is my first book. I wrote it with my mother, Jean Shirley. As a child, she loved The Secret Garden and later I loved it, too. It was Mother’s idea to write a biography of the author for young people.

Frances Hodgson Burnett was born in England in 1849 but she moved to Tennessee in 1865. While still in her teens, she began selling stories to American magazines. Income from her writing let her support her mother and sisters and later her husband and two sons. After moving to Washington, D.C., she began writing novels for adults on serious topics like working women, unwed mothers, and unhappy marriages.

Her sons missed her when she spent all day writing. “Why don’t you write some books that little boys would like to read?” the younger boy asked. Frances responded with Little Lord Fauntleroy, which was wildly popular, the Harry Potter of its time.

Frances’s book sales, coupled with theatrical successes, made her, for a time, the highest earning woman in the United States. She lived extravagantly, crossing the Atlantic thirty-three times before her death in 1924. She saw several of her books made into silent movies. New film and stage versions of her work appear regularly. Today she is best remembered for two children’s books, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden.

Find out how her life, which was often controversial, inspired her writing, and why she is still popular after almost a century.

For additional information, visit the The Literary Ladies Guide.

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s great-great-granddaughter, Keri Wilt, maintains a blog called “FHB and Me.”

Reviews of Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden

School Library Journal, starred review: "A first-rate biography. . . . Reading like a good novel, this is a celebration of who Frances Hodgson Burnett was and what made her so."

Booklist: " ... highly readable ... Copiously illustrated with photographs, portraits, and drawings ... will appeal to the many readers whose hearts Burnett has touched through her books."

Christian Schools International Library Materials Guide: “Very thorough, factual biography of author Burnett, illustrated with pictures and photographs throughout.”

Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Review: “Frances Hodgson Burnett’s story is sure to interest people who have read her books and this biography gives readers an excellent portrait in words of what she must have been like; brave, bold, adventurous, ambitious, loving, and immensely creative.”

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