Related to: 'A Little Princess'

Virago

The Secret Garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett
Authors:
Frances Hodgson Burnett

'She put her hand in her pocket, drew out the key, and found it fitted the keyhole . . . she held back the swinging curtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly. Then she slipped through it, looking about her and breathing quite fast with excitement and wonder and delight. She was standing inside the secret garden'Everybody at Misselthwaite Manor agrees that Mary Lennox is the most disagreeable child they have ever met. Pale, selfish and spoilt, the ten-year-old orphan has been sent from India to her uncle's estate and she is determined to hate everything about it. But the isolated house on the Yorkshire moors holds secrets that Mary cannot resist exploring: pitiful crying that echoes down the corridors at night and a hidden walled garden. When a robin leads Mary to the buried key, not only is the garden unlocked, but also her heart. And as the garden blooms, for the first time in her life, Mary discovers friendship. This is where the magic begins...'The mystery element kept me turning the pages but it was the superb characterisation that made the story stay with me. It taught me that it's never too late to remake yourself into someone better' Malorie Blackman'There is an old-fashioned tenderness and joy to it; the sense that magic happens if you are observant and quiet and know it will' Sophie DahlA collection that will be coveted by children and adults alike, this list is the best in children's literature, curated by Virago. These are timeless tales with beautiful covers, that will be treasured and shared across the generations. Some titles you will already know; some will be new to you, but there are stories for everyone to love, whatever your age. Our list includes Nina Bawden (Carrie's War, The Peppermint Pig), Rumer Godden (The Dark Horse, An Episode of Sparrows), Joan Aiken (The Serial Garden, The Gift Giving) E. Nesbit (The Psammead Trilogy, The Bastable Trilogy, The Railway Children), L. M. Montgomery (The Anne of Green Gables series) and Susan Coolidge (The What Katy Did Trilogy). Discover Virago Children's Classics.

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith is the author of over eighty books on a wide array of subjects, including the award-winning The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. He is also the author of the Isabel Dalhousie novels and the world's longest-running serial novel, 44 Scotland Street. His books have been translated into forty-six languages. Alexander McCall Smith is Professor Emeritus of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and holds honorary doctorates from thirteen universities.

Ali Smith

Ali Smith was born in Inverness and lives in Cambridge. She is the author of three collections of stories and three novels. Hotel World was shortlisted for both the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize in 2001 and her latest novel, The Accidental, won the 2006 Whitbread Novel Award. Ali reviews regularly for the Guardian, the Scotsman and the TLS.

Angela Thirkell

Angela Thirkell (1890-1961) was the eldest daughter of John William Mackail, a Scottish classical scholar and civil servant, and Margaret Burne-Jones. Her relatives included the pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones, Rudyard Kipling and Stanley Baldwin, and her grandfather was J. M. Barrie. She was educated in London and Paris, and began publishing articles and stories in the 1920s. In 1931 she brought out her first book, a memoir entitled Three Houses, and in 1933 her comic novel High Rising - set in the fictional county of Barsetshire, borrowed from Trollope - met with great success. She went on to write nearly thirty Barsetshire novels, as well as several further works of fiction and non-fiction. She was twice married and had four children.

Anna Seghers

ANNA SEGHERS (1900-1983) was born Netty Reiling in Mainz, Germany, into a Jewish family. In 1924 she received a doctorate in Art History from the University of Heidelberg, and in the same year her first story, written under the name Antje Seghers, was published. During this time, she came into contact with many left-wing intellectuals, including her husband, a Hungarian economist, and began writing in earnest. By the end of 1928, Anna Seghers had joined the Communist Party, given birth to two children and was awarded the Kleist Prize for her first novel, The Revolt of the Fishermen of St Barbara.As Jew, a Communist and a revolutionary writer, she was blacklisted in Nazi Germany and left for France in 1933 with her family. After the Nazi invasion in 1940, she was forced to flee again and, with the aid of Varian Fry, she and her family sailed from Marseilles to Mexico on a ship that included Victor Serge, André Breton and Claude Lévi-Strauss among its passengers.Seghers gained international recognition with The Seventh Cross (1942), which became a bestseller. It was the basis for the 1944 MGM film starring Spencer Tracy and was one of the only depictions of Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War in either literature or film. It has been translated into more than thirty languages.After the war Seghers moved to East Berlin, where she became a prominent figure of East German letters, actively championing the work of younger writers from her position as president of the Writers Union. Among Seghers' internationally acclaimed works are The Seventh Cross; Transit (1944); Excursion of the Dead Girls (1945); The Dead Stay Young (1949); and the story collection Benito's Blue (1973).

Antonia White

Antonia White (1899-1980) was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton before going to St Paul's School for Girls and training for the stage at RADA. From 1924 until the Second World War she worked as a journalist. Among numerous volumes of short stories, fiction and autobiography, Antonia White published a celebrated quartet of novels linked by their heroine: Frost in May (1922), The Lost Traveller (1950), The Sugar House (1952) and Beyond the Glass (1954).

Beryl Bainbridge

Beryl Bainbridge was one of the greatest living novelists. Author of seventeen novels, two travel books and five plays for stage and television, she was shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, and won many literary awards including the Whitbread Prize and the Author of the Year Award at the British Book Awards. She died in July 2010.

Candace Bushnell

Candace Bushnell is the creator of SEX AND THE CITY and has been described by the EVENING STANDARD as a 'genius'. The OBSERVER compared her to Nancy Mitford and the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH to 'Jane Austen with a Martini.'

Daphne Du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier (1907-89) was born in London, the daughter of the famous actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and granddaughter of George du Maurier, the author and artist. In 1931 her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published. A biography of her father and three other novels followed, but it was the novel Rebecca that launched her into the literary stratosphere and made her one of the most popular authors of her day. In 1932, du Maurier married Major Frederick Browning, with whom she had three children.Many of du Maurier's bestselling novels and short stories were adapted into award-winning films, including Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. In 1969 du Maurier was awarded a DBE. She lived most of her life in Cornwall, the setting for many of her books.

David Baddiel

David Baddiel co-created three of the most popular comedy programmes in BBC TV history and his stand-up comedy act is always a sell-out nationwide.

E. Nesbit

Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) is perhaps most famous for writing The Railway Children and Five Children and It, but she was extremely prolific and wrote or collaborated on more than sixty children's books. Nesbit is today recognised as one of the most influential and innovative children's writers that ever lived, and is cited as an inspiration by many contemporary authors, including J. K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Jacqueline Wilson, Kate Saunders and Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Even C. S. Lewis acknowledged the debt his Narnia series owed to her work - particularly the Bastable and Psammead trilogies.

Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton was born in 1862 in New York, and later lived in Rhode Island and France. Her first novel, The Valley of Decision, was published in 1902, and by 1913 she was writing at least one book a year. During the First World War she was awarded the Cross of the Legion d'Honneur and the Order of Leopold. In 1920, The Age of Innocence won the Pulitzer Prize; she was the first woman to receive a Doctorate of Letters from Yale University and in 1930 she became a member of the American Academy of Arts and letters. She died in 1937.

Elaine Dundy

Elaine Dundy was born in New York. As an actress she worked in Paris and London and then became a writer. She has written plays, biographies and novels including the bestselling THE DUD AVOCADO, her first novel.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor (1912-1975) is increasingly recognised as one of the best British writers of the twentieth century. She wrote her first book, At Mrs Lippincote's, during the war while her husband was in the Royal Air Force, and this was followed by eleven further novels and a children's book, Mossy Trotter. Her acclaimed short stories appeared in publications including Vogue, the New Yorker and Harper's Bazaar.

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Frances Hodgson Burnett was born in Manchester, England, in 1849 but moved to America in 1865 after her father died and her family fell on hard times. There she began writing stories to earn money and soon became a successful novelist, playwright, and children's author. She wrote the classic novels, Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden.

Joan Aiken

Joan Aiken (1924-2004) was born in Rye, Sussex. She was the daughter of the American poet Conrad Aiken, and her step-father was English writer Martin Armstrong. Joan Aiken wrote over 100 books for young readers and adults and is recognised as one of the classic children's authors of the twentieth century.Her best-known books are The Wolves of Willoughby Chase chronicles and the Arabel's Raven series, but she is also famous for her brilliant short stories. Joan Aiken received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in the United States as well as the Guardian Award for Fiction. She was decorated with an MBE for her services to children's books.

Justin Hill

Justin Hill was born in the Bahamas, and grew up in York, attending St Peter's School. He studied Old England and Medieval Literature at Durham University, and spent most of his twenties on postings with Voluntary Service Overseas in rural China and East Africa.He has written poetry, non-fiction and fiction, which spans eras as distant from one another as Anglo Saxon England, in Shieldwall, to Tang Dynasty, China, in Passing Under Heaven. His work has won numerous awards, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, a Betty Trask Award, as well as being selected as a Sunday Times Book of the Year (Shieldwall) and a Washington Post Books of the Year (The Drink and Dream Teahouse). In 2014 he was selected to write the sequel to the Oscar winning film, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. He lives near York.

L. M. Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery was born in 1874 on Prince Edward Island, Canada, where she spent her childhood living with her grandparents in an old farmhouse. A prolific writer, she published many short stories, poems and novels, many of which were inspired by the years she spent on the beautiful Prince Edward Island. Anne of Green Gables and its sequels have always been amongst the most popular of children's classics. Montgomery died in Toronto in 1942 and was buried on her beloved island.

Linda Grant

Linda Grant is a novelist and journalist. She won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000 and the Lettre Ulysses Prize for Literary Reportage in 2006, and was longlisted for the Man Booker in 2002 for Still Here. The Clothes on Their Backs was shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2008 and went on to win the South Bank Show Award.

Lisa Appignanesi

Lisa Appignanesi was born in Poland and grew up in France and Canada. A novelist and writer, she is visiting professor of Literature and the Medical Humanities at King's College London. She was chair of the Freud Museum from 2008-2014 and is a former president of English PEN. She was awarded an OBE for services to Literature in 2013. Her published work includes Mad, Bad and Sad, All About Love and Losing the Dead. @LisaAppignanesi