What the Narnia books did for wardrobes, The Secret Garden did for the walled garden. Few readers can fail to share with Mary Lennox that inexplicable thrill of anticipation at the notion of an enclosed and secret world, bursting with potential life and beauty but remaining hidden from view.
As Mary herself observes, 'Here was another locked door, added to the hundred in the strange house'. When she finds the key to the secret garden, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery and enables other characters in the novel to open doors and windows into their own lives, bringing vitality and vigour back to the inhabitants of Misselthwaite Manor.
The author's interest in theosophy is perhaps reflected in the journey of the crippled Colin, who believes he can heal himself through positive thinking. And, as the roses return to the garden, so they bloom in Mary's cheeks - as she discovers an ancient and timeless magic that every gardener will recognise and understand.
Published in 1909, it is one of Frances Hodgson Burnett's most popular novels with adults as well as children. It has been adapted countless times for stage and screen and spawned spin-offs and sequels all over the world.