Frances Hodgson Burnett

English-American playwright and author

Frances Hodgson Burnett (24 November 184929 October 1924) was an English–American playwright and author. She is best known for her children's stories, including The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and Little Lord Fauntleroy.

Frances Hodgson Burnett

See also: The Secret Garden (1993 film)


  • Some very fine day/ I will step up your way,/ At least, if so you agree./ With two tales I've been writing, full of murders and fighting --/So I hope you'll be glad to seem me. (in a letter to her cousin in March, 1863)
  • Three thousand dollars would certainly have bought a house in Knoxville...I want my chestnuts off a higher bough. (in a letter to her sister Edith in April, 1876)
  • I hate & detest love stories, but it seems that you must have their grinning sentimental skeletons to hang your respectable humanity and drapery upon. (in a letter to her editor Richard Watson Gilder in summer, 1881)
All quotes are from the public domain text of the novel, available at "The Secret Garden"
  • Perhaps if her mother had carried her pretty face and her pretty manners oftener into the nursery Mary might have learned some pretty ways too.
    • Chapter 2
  • “Eh!” she said, “but you are like an old woman. Don’t you care?”
    “It doesn’t matter,” said Mary, “whether I care or not.”
    “You are right enough there,” said Mrs. Medlock. “It doesn’t.”
    • Chapter 2
  • So she began to feel a slight interest in Dickon, and as she had never before been interested in any one but herself, it was the dawning of a healthy sentiment.
    • Chapter 4
  • In India she had always felt hot and too languid to care much about anything. The fact was that the fresh wind from the moor had begun to blow the cobwebs out of her young brain and to waken her up a little.
    • Chapter 5
  • At that moment a very good thing was happening to her. Four good things had happened to her, in fact, since she came to Misselthwaite Manor. She had felt as if she had understood a robin and that he had understood her; she had run in the wind until her blood had grown warm; she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life; and she had found out what it was to be sorry for some one. She was getting on.
    • Chapter 5
  • Yorkshire’s th’ sunniest place on earth when it is sunny.
    • Chapter 7
  • “How many things she knows, doesn’t she?”
    “Eh!” said Martha. “It’s like she says: ’A woman as brings up twelve children learns something besides her A B C. Children’s as good as ’rithmetic to set you findin’ out things.’”
    • Chapter 9
  • “Eh!” he said, and as he crumbled the rich black soil she saw he was sniffing up the scent of it, “there doesn’t seem to be no need for no one to be contrary when there’s flowers an’ such like, an’ such lots o’ friendly wild things runnin’ about makin’ homes for themselves, or buildin’ nests an’ singin’ an’ whistlin’, does there?”
    • Chapter 11
  • “The rain is as contrary as I ever was,” she said. “It came because it knew I did not want it.”
    • Chapter 13
  • “Oh, Dickon! Dickon!” she cried out. “How could you get here so early! How could you! The sun has only just got up!”
    He got up himself, laughing and glowing, and tousled; his eyes like a bit of the sky.
    “Eh!” he said. “I was up long before him. How could I have stayed abed! Th’ world’s all fair begun again this mornin’, it has. An’ it’s workin’ an’ hummin’ an’ scratchin’ an’ pipin’ an’ nest-buildin’ an’ breathin’ out scents, till you’ve got to be out on it ’stead o’ lyin’ on your back. When th’ sun did jump up, th’ moor went mad for joy, an’ I was in the midst of th’ heather, an’ I run like mad myself, shoutin’ an’ singin’. An’ I come straight here. I couldn’t have stayed away. Why, th’ garden was lyin’ here waitin’!”
    • Chapter 15
  • “Do you think he wants him to die?” whispered Mary.
    “No, but he wishes he’d never been born. Mother she says that’s th’ worst thing on earth for a child. Them as is not wanted scarce ever thrives.”
    • Chapter 15
  • Ben Weatherstaff says he is so conceited he would rather have stones thrown at him than not be noticed.
    • Chapter 15
  • Mary’s lips pinched themselves together. She was no more used to considering other people than Colin was and she saw no reason why an ill-tempered boy should interfere with the thing she liked best. She knew nothing about the pitifulness of people who had been ill and nervous and who did not know that they could control their tempers and need not make other people ill and nervous, too. When she had had a headache in India she had done her best to see that everybody else also had a headache or something quite as bad. And she felt she was quite right; but of course now she felt that Colin was quite wrong.
    • Chapter 16
  • “You are a selfish thing!” cried Colin.
    “What are you?” said Mary. “Selfish people always say that. Any one is selfish who doesn’t do what they want.”
    • Chapter 16
  • Eh! poor lad! He’s been spoiled till salt won’t save him. Mother says as th’ two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way—or always to have it. She doesn’t know which is th’ worst.
    • Chapter 18
  • “She’s got a way with her, has Susan,” she went on quite volubly. “I’ve been thinking all morning of one thing she said yesterday. She says, ’Once when I was givin’ th’ children a bit of a preach after they’d been fightin’ I ses to ’em all, “When I was at school my jography told as th’ world was shaped like a orange an’ I found out before I was ten that th’ whole orange doesn’t belong to nobody. No one owns more than his bit of a quarter an’ there’s times it seems like there’s not enow quarters to go round. But don’t you—none o’ you—think as you own th’ whole orange or you’ll find out you’re mistaken, an’ you won’t find it out without hard knocks.” What children learns from children,’ she says, ’is that there’s no sense in grabbin’ at th’ whole orange—peel an’ all. If you do you’ll likely not get even th’ pips, an’ them’s too bitter to eat.’”
    • Chapter 19
  • Then something began pushing things up out of the soil and making things out of nothing. One day things weren’t there and another they were. I had never watched things before and it made me feel very curious. Scientific people are always curious and I am going to be scientific. I keep saying to myself, ’What is it? What is it?’ It’s something. It can’t be nothing!
    • Chapter 22
  • Being alive is the Magic—being strong is the Magic.
    • Chapter 22
  • In each century since the beginning of the world wonderful things have been discovered. In the last century more amazing things were found out than in any century before. In this new century hundreds of things still more astounding will be brought to light. At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done—then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago. One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live.
    • Chapter 27
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