The Secret Garden is a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
It was initially published in serial format starting in the autumn of 1910, and was first published in its entirety in 1911.
It is now one of Burnett's most popular novels, and is considered to be a classic of English children's literature.
Several stage and film adaptations have been produced.
Mary Lennox is a "disagreeable-looking" 10-year-old girl who is born in India to selfish wealthy British parents who had not wanted her and were too wrapped up in their own lives. She was taken care of primarily by servants, who pacified her as much as possible to keep her out of the way. Spoilt and with a temper, she is unaffectionate, angry, rude and obstinate. Later, there is a cholera epidemic which hits India and kills her mother, father and all the servants. She is discovered alone but alive after the house is empty. She briefly lives with an English clergyman and his family and is then sent to Yorkshire, England to live with her uncle Archibald Craven at his home called Misselthwaite Manor.
At first, Mary is her usual self, sour and rude, disliking her uncle's large house, the people within it and most of all the vast stretch of moor, which seems scrubby and grey after the winter. She is told that she must stay confined to her two rooms and that nobody will bother much with her and she must amuse herself. Martha Sowerby, her good-natured maidservant, tells Mary a story of the late Mrs. Craven, and how she would spend hours in a private garden growing roses. Later, Mrs. Craven was killed in an accident, and Mr. Craven had the garden locked and the key buried. Mary is roused by this story and starts to soften her ill manner despite herself. Soon she begins to lose her disposition and gradually comes to enjoy the company of Martha, Ben Weatherstaff the gardener, and also that of a friendly robin redbreast to whom she attaches human qualities. Her appetite increases and she finds herself getting stronger as she plays by herself on the moor. Martha's mother buys Mary a skipping rope to encourage this, and she takes to it immediately. Mary's time is occupied by wondering about the secret garden and a strange crying sound that can sometimes be heard around the house which the servants ignore or deny.
Whilst exploring the gardens, Mary is alerted to some turned up soil by the inquisitive robin, and finds a key belonging to the locked garden. She chances to ask Martha for garden tools, which Martha has delivered by Dickon, her twelve-year-old brother. Mary and Dickon take a liking to each other, as Dickon has a soft way with animals and a good nature. Eager to absorb his gardening knowledge, Mary lets him into the secret of the garden, which he agrees to keep.
That night, Mary hears the crying again. She follows the noise and, to her surprise, finds a small boy her age, living in a hidden bedroom. His name is Colin and she discovers that they are cousins: he is the son of her uncle; his mother died when he was a baby, and he suffers from an unspecified problem with his spine. Mary visits every day that week, distracting him from his troubles with stories of the moor, of Dickon and his animals and of the garden. It is decided he needs fresh air and the secret garden, to which Mary finally admits she has access. Colin is put into his wheelchair and brought outside into the garden, the first time he's been outdoors in years.
While in the garden, the children are surprised to see Ben Weatherstaff looking over the wall on a ladder. Startled and angry to find the children there in his late mistress' (Colin's mother's) garden he admits he believed Colin to be a cripple. Colin stands up out of his chair to prove him wrong and finds that his legs are fine, though weak from not using them for a long time.