Born in Manchester, England, on November 24, 1849, Frances Eliza Hodgson moved, at age sixteen, to Knoxville, Tennessee with her mother.
In 1872, her first story, “Hearts and Diamonds,” was published in Godey’s Ladies Book. Her first widely distributed story appeared in Scribner’s Magazine. A novel she wrote, That Lass o’ Lowrie’s, set in Lancashire, established her as a novelist.
In 1873, Frances Hodgson married Dr. L.M. Burnett of Washington, D.C.
In 1886, her first book for children was published. Little Lord Fauntleroy became a hit with mothers, who let their boys hair grow out into long curls and dressed them in velvet suits with lace collars.
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.
Today, her most remembered work is The Secret Garden, which was originally published as Sara Crew. She was also a playwright, producing several well received plays. Mrs. Burnett died in Plandome, New York, in 1924.