Author of the Week - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Born Frances Eliza Hodgson in 1849 Manchester, England. Just 5 years old when her father died, Frances was left with her mother and four siblings. They had to endure deep poverty and squalor until Frances emigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee. They made the move at the request of an Uncle, who was hoping to help alleviate their poverty (which he did not), but they did live in a better environment where Frances received a decent education. Frances did leave home for a short while until her mother died. Then an 18-year-old Frances was the head of the family with two younger siblings to look after. This is when she turned to writing to support them all. Her first story was published in Godey's Lady's Book in 1868. Soon she was a regular writer for Godey's, Scribner's Monthly, Person's Ladies' Magazine, and Harper's Bazaar. In 1873 Frances married Dr. Swan Burnett and moved to Washington, D.C. Her first novel, That Lass o' Lowrie's, was published in 1877. These

were quickly followed by five more novels within five years. In 1886, Frances published her first children's book, Little Lord Fauntleroy. Although it wasn't a hit with children, mother's loved the small novel. It even had a social impact as the fashion of long curls and velvet suits with lace collars became stereotypical images for 'rich kids' for year. (I'm sure little boys everywhere hated Frances for this) The book sold more than half a million copies. In 1888 she won a lawsuit in England over the dramatic rights to Little Lord Fauntleroy, establishing a precedent that was incorporated into British copyright law in 1911

In 1898, Frances divorced her husband and quickly remarries Stephen Townsend, her business manager. This marriage only lasted two years though. Her later works Sara Crewe (1888), A Little Princess (1905), The Lady of Quality (1896), The Secret Garden (1911), and The Lost Prince (1915). She published a memoir as well as a travel journal. After her eldest son died of consumption in 1890, Burnett delved into Spiritualism and some of those concepts were worked into The Secret Garden. During World War I, Burnett put her beliefs about what happens after death into writing her novella The White People. Frances lived to be 75