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FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT

1849-1924
English

"I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t
pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses"

Frances Eliza Hodgson was born on 24th November 1849 in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, England, to Eliza Boond and Edwin Hodgson.

In 1852 the family moved to a more spacious home with easy access to the outdoors. They were comfortably off, but barely a year later, with his wife pregnant for a fifth time, Edward Hodgson died of a stroke, leaving the family without income. Eliza took over running the family business, leaving Frances in the care of her grandmother. The grandmother enjoyed teaching the child to read and bought books for her.

From an early age Frances showed an active imagination, writing stories she made up in old notebooks. The children were sent to be educated at The Select Seminary for Young Ladies and Gentleman, where she was described as "precocious" and "romantic". In 1863 Eliza Hodgson was forced to sell the business and move to a smaller home, and Frances' limited education was ended. In 1865 the family emigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee, to join Eliza's brother, whose dry goods store was thriving as a result of the American civil war.

Unfortunately, after the end of the war, Eliza’s brother lost much of his business and was unable to support the family. The family then moved to a home Frances called “Noah’s Ark, Mt Arafat” and there she became friends with Swan Burnett whom she introduced to books and authors such as Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott and William Makepeace Thackeray that she had read in England. She may have befriended him because of a childhood injury that left him lame and unable to participate in physical activities.

To earn money Frances started writing and her first story was published in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1868. Soon after she was being published regularly in Godey's Lady's Book, Scribner's Monthly, Peterson's Ladies' Magazine and Harper's Bazaar. For five years she wrote constantly, often not worrying about quality. Her first story was published before she was 18, and she spent the rest of her life as a working writer.

By 1869 she earned enough to move the family into Knoxville. With the income from her writing she returned to England for an extended visit in 1872. In 1873, Frances Hodgson and Swan Burnett married. They wanted to leave Knoxville, and Frances' income from writing allowed them to travel to Paris where Swan continued his medical training as an eye and ear specialist. She later divorced Swan and moved back to England living at Great Maytham Hall where she wrote The Secret Garden and Little Princess.

In 1907 she moved back to the United States and lived in New York where she died on 29th October 1924.

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