Mrs Sowerby visiting the garden, image courtesy of Studio MinaLima
The Secret Garden (first published 1911) tells the story of Mary Lennox, an unhappy 10-year-old orphan sent to live her widowed uncle at his sprawling and mysterious Yorkshire estate, Misselthwaite Manor. Here she discovers the key to a long-abandoned hidden walled garden, which she begins to tend. As Mary cares for the plants in the garden with the help of her sickly cousin Colin Craven, its restorative powers help her overcome her grief. The garden also heals Colin, who had previously been unable to walk.
The Secret Garden was first published in The American Magazine from November 1910 – August 1911. Following its success, it was published as a book in 1911. Precious first editions of both the magazine and the book will be on display in the exhibition, alongside contemporary interpretations by children’s book illustrator Lauren Child and an interactive edition by Studio MinaLima, the graphic design studio behind the graphic universe of the Harry Potter movies.
Inside the Wonderful Garden, Lauren Child, collage on paper (c) Lauren Child
As well as celebrating illustrations from The Secret Garden, the exhibition will explore Frances Hodgson Burnett’s keen interest in gardening in real life, including her gardens at Great Maytham Hall, Kent – famous for providing the inspiration for The Secret Garden.
Frances Hodgson Burnett photographed in her garden at Maytham Hall, published in Country Life (1906)
The exhibition will run through the summer holidays accompanied by a programme of art, gardening and cooking activities suitable for children and families.