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The Secret Garden
  1. Caroline Furnell
  1. Child Health, HCRG Care Group, Bath BA2 5RP, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Caroline Furnell, Child Health, HCRG Care Group, Bath BA2 5RP, UK; cfurnell20{at}

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a classic of children’s literature. Published in 1911, the story of self-healing has enduring appeal, with many screen adaptations. The novel centres on Mary Lennox, who is living in India with her wealthy British family. She is a selfish and disagreeable 10-year-old girl who has been spoiled by her servants and neglected by her unloving parents. Mary is orphaned when a cholera epidemic kills her parents and servants. She is sent to England to live with a widowed uncle, Archibald Craven, at his huge Yorkshire estate, Misselthwaite Manor.

Mary has little contact with her uncle and is cared for by the housekeeper, Mrs Medlock. The chambermaid, Martha, shares stories about her own family, particularly those about her 12-year-old brother, Dickon, who has a way with animals. When Martha mentions the late Mrs Craven’s walled garden, which was locked 10 years earlier by the uncle on his wife’s death, Mary is determined to find it.

Mary hears strange sounds in the house and discovers they are the cries of …

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  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.