Frances Hodgson Burnett

Frances Hodgson Burnett
Frances Hodgson Burnett

Frances Hodgson Burnett is a well-known author of children literature comprising of short stories and novels. Among her notable works A Little Princess (1905), The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and A Lady of Quality. These books were highly-acclaimed and continue to receive a sizeable audience thanks to their focus on real-world situations. Burnett wrote some of the most exciting children’s books of all time.

Thanks to her ability to effectively use imagery, children reading her books can picture the situation described as if they are watching it on television — an important feature considering that children in the modern world are more intrigued by visuals than words.

Personal life and education

Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett was born on November 24, 1849. With British roots, the American playwright and novelist was the third born to Eliza Boond and her husband, Edwin Hodgson. The family had a comfortable life and employed both a maid and a nurse-maid. They had immigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee, United States in 1865.

The author married Dr. Swan Burnett in 1872. The two had a life together in Paris for two years, where they gave birth to their sons. They returned to the United States and settled in Washington, DC. Swan and Frances divorced in 1898. Frances later got married to Stephen Townsend in 1900 and divorced him in 1902. She relocated to Nassau County, New York where she died in 1924.

The writer’s oldest son Lionel died in December 1890 while still in Paris. The event had a significant impact on her personal life as well as her writing career. Before his passing away, she had moved him from one physician to another. The lost drove her into great depression. She wrote a letter to her friend explaining the amount of pain she felt. Her younger son Vivian remained her source of strength and would later work in the publishing industry.

Writing career

There is no doubt that Frances Hodgson Burnett had an illustrious writing career. She began to write novels after relocating from Paris to the United States. Her first release was That Lass o’ Lowrie’s, which got a considerable number of positive reviews. Little Lord Fauntleroy quickly followed in 1886.

Her other interesting works include Sara Crewe, A Little Princess, and A Fair Barbarian, among many other publications. The Secret Garden was written from England where Frances and her first husband had bought a home. In 1936 a sculpture was erected in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden her honor depicting Mary and Dickon, two famous characters from Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

Burnett also worked as the editor of children’s magazine, St. Nicholas, in which she published several short stories. While releasing children’s fiction, Burnett would also write adult fiction like Louisiana, Through One Administration and A Fair Barbarian. She also wrote the play Esmerelda in 1881 which dominated Broadway for a better part of the 19th century.


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