Most people have heard of Little Lord Fauntleroy, and of The Secret Garden. Yet few people realize that the same woman wrote both books, 25 years apart, and was considered, along with Henry James, one of the leading writers in America on the strength of the adult novels which made her name in the 1870s and 1880s.
Frances Hodgson Burnett’s favourite theme in fiction was the reversal of fortune, and she herself knew extremes of poverty and wealth. Born in Manchester in 1849, she emigrated with her family to Tennessee at the close of the Civil War. On the surface, her life was extremely successful. She played the roles of Famous Writer and Fairy Godmother with enthusiasm, but happiness eluded her. She was always waiting for the party, but it went on in other rooms.