Frances H. Burnett

Biografie şi Bibliografie

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Frances Hodgson Burnett (November 24, 1849 – October 29, 1924) was an Anglo-American  playwright  and author. She is best known for her children's stories, in particular The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and Little Lord Fauntleroy.

Life

She was born Frances Eliza Hodgson in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, England. Her father died in 1854, leaving her mother to support five children. They had to endure poverty and squalor in the Victorian slums of Manchester.

In 1865 she emigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee in the United States. The move, which the family made at the request of an uncle, did not alleviate their poverty, but they were now living in a better environment. She lived in a house in New Market, northeast of Knoxville off of 11E; in front of the house there is a sign which contains details. Following the death of her mother in 1867, the 18-year-old Frances was now the head of a family of two younger siblings. She turned to writing to support them all, with a first story published in Godey's Lady's Book in 1868. Soon after she was being published regularly in Godey's, Scribner's Monthly, Peterson's Ladies' Magazine and Harper's Bazaar. Her main writing talent was combining realistic detail of working-class life with a romantic plot.

She married Dr. Swan Burnett of Washington, D.C. in 1873.

Her first novel, That Lass o' Lowrie's, was published in 1877 and was a story of Lancashire life.

After moving with her husband to Washington, D.C., Burnett wrote the novels Haworth's (1879), Louisiana (1880), A Fair Barbarian (1881), and Through One Administration (1883), as well as a play, Esmeralda (1881), written with William Gillette.

In 1886 she published Little Lord Fauntleroy. It was originally intended as a children's book, but had a great appeal to mothers. It created a fashion of long curls (based on her son Vivian's) and velvet suits with lace collars (based on Oscar Wilde's attire), which became a stereotypical image for 'rich kids' for years (see Robert Redford's film, 'The Candidate' (1972) for a typical example). The book sold more than half a million copies. In 1888 she won a lawsuit in England over the dramatic rights to Little Lord Fauntleroy, establishing a precedent that was incorporated into British copyright law in 1911.

In 1898 she divorced Dr. Burnett. She later re-married, this time to Stephen Townsend (1900), her business manager. Her second marriage would last less than two years, ending in 1902.

Her later works include Sara Crewe (1888), later rewritten as A Little Princess (1905); The Lady of Quality (1896), considered one of the best of her plays; and The Secret Garden (1911), the children's novel for which she is probably best known today. The Lost Prince was published in 1915, and The Head of the House of Coombe was published in Canada in 1922. The Making of a Marchioness was published in 1911 and was one of Nancy Mitford's favorite books, mentioned in Love in a Cold Climate.

In 1893 she published a memoir of her youth, The One I Knew Best of All. From the mid-1890s she lived mainly in England, and in particular at Great Maytham Hall (from 1897 to 1907) where she really did discover a secret garden, but in 1909 she moved back to the United States, after having become a U.S. citizen in 1905.

After her first son Lionel's death of consumption in 1890, Burnett delved into Spiritualism and apparently found this a great comfort in dealing with her grief (she had previously dabbled in Theosophy, and some of its concepts are worked into The Secret Garden, in which a boy who has been an invalid for a long time helps to heal himself through positive thinking and affirmations). During World War I, Burnett put her beliefs about what happens after death into writing with her novella The White People.

Frances Hodgson Burnett lived for the last 17 years of her life in Plandome, New York. She is buried in Roslyn Cemetery nearby, next to her son Vivian.

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