The Secret Garden

“Infobox Book”
name The Secret Garden
image caption Children’s Classics hardcover
author Frances Hodgson Burnett
country U.S.A.
language English
genre novel
publisher Scholastic Inc.
release_date 1911
media type Hardback and paperback
pages 298
isbn 0517189607

Character Summaries

Mary Lennox

The main character of the story at first. She is the one who finds the secret garden at first. She is an orphan who comes to live at her uncle’s house. She is unloved at first, but soon comes to find friends who accept her.

Colin Craven

The son of Archibald Craven. Colin believes himself to be ill and near-death, and indulges in tantrums all of the time. Mary teaches him how to behave properly and how to have confidence in his own strength. With Mary and Dickon’s help, Colin goes to the garden and his health is restored.

Dickon Sowerby

Dickon is an expert of the ways of the land. He is able to tame animals instantly. He spends a lot of time in the garden with Mary and Colin, helping to change them for the better.

Martha Sowerby

Mary’s maid and also her friend.

Ben Weatherstaff

The elderly gardener of Misselthwaite. He was close to Lilias before her death. He secretly visits the garden once a year. He helps the children keep the garden a secret.

Archibald Craven

The owner of Misselthwaite. He is haunted by the death of his wife, so much so that he will not spend any time with his son until he has a change of heart at the end of the novel.

Lilias Craven

Colin’s mother and Archibald’s wife. She died ten year before the start of the novel.

Susan Sowerby

The mother of Martha and Dickon. She is kind and good-hearted and helps out Colin and Mary.

Mrs. Medlock

Head of the servants at Misselthwaite. She seems very prim and proper but is also kind.

Dr. Craven

The brother of Archibald. He will inherit the manor upon Colin’s death, so does not try too hard to cure him.

Chapter Summaries

Chapter One

The main character of the story is Mary Lennox. Mary was born in India, her hair was yellow, her face was yellow, she had a little thin face, and a little thin body. She was a disagreeable looking child, and she wasn’t very nice. Her mother didn’t take care of Mary, and went to parties all the time, so Mary had to go to her uncle, Archibald Craven’s house. She was taken care of by her Ayah, but one day everybody died because of cholera. Mary hid in the nursery, but everyone has forgotten her.

Chapter Two

Mary is sent to an English clergyman’s house because her Ayah and her family are all dead from cholera. In the clergyman’s house, Mary gets teased by the clergyman’s children. She gets a nickname from them which is “Mistress Mary,” and a song:

“Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary
How Does Your Garden Grow?
With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells,
And Marigolds All In a Row”

Then, Mrs. Medlock comes to pick Mary from the clergyman’s house. She finds out that the owner of Missethlwaite Manor’s wife has died.

Chapter Three

The house-keeper’s name is Mrs. Medlock. Mrs. Medlock and Mary go to the station and eat their lunch.
They drive to the Misselthwaite Manor. It is raining, and the wind is strong, making strange sounds. Mrs. Medlock puts Mary in a room all alone.

Chapter Four

Mary goes to the Misselthwaite Manor and finds out it is far away from cities. She also finds out that she has to learn some basic things like changing her clothes by her self because her Ayah was changing her clothes in India. Also she finds out about shoes.

Mary also finds out that there is a garden that has hundreds of rooms. She hears that there is one door that has been shut for ten years. She travels in the garden that has many doors. Then she ends up in a wall with no door.

But over the wall, she finds a tree and a bird in the tree. Then she finds a man called Ben who is a gardener of Misselthwaite Manor and finds out that the gardener, Ben, is friends with the bird. She heard that Ben became friends with the bird because when the bird was a baby, Ben helped the tired bird. But while helping the bird, the family of the bird flew away and the bird became lonely so the bird came back to Ben.

Chapter Five

Mary wakes up and eats her breakfast, then decides to go out and it is the best thing she’s done in her life. Mary doesn’t have anything to do, so she goes outside and talks with Ben.

Robin and Ben are talking. Robin starts singing and it reminds Mary of a tree in a secret garden. Robin lives in that tree. The secret garden doesn’t have any door, but ten years ago, Craven had the keys and he buried them somewhere. He buried the keys, because his wife died at that tree, so he hated the secret garden. Mary goes back and she hears someone crying, but Martha says it is just the wind.

Chapter Six

It is raining outside and Mary is bored. She asks Martha what she can do inside the house. Martha suggests Mary read some books but Mary hasn’t got one. Martha remembers about the library in the apartment.

Then she comes up with an idea to search in the apartment and see if she can count all the doors and rooms. As she travels through the apartment, she finds a mouse. She wishes to be friends with it but she can’t because the mouse is afraid of her. Then she gets tired of traveling so she starts to go back to her own room but loses track. Then suddenly, she hears a crying voice. Mary tries to find it out but Mrs.Medlock appears and takes Mary back to her own room.

Chapter Seven

Martha has a day out, so Mary is alone. She goes straight to the secret garden and she finds Ben, so they talk. Mary asks Ben where the key is buried, but he says he doesn’t know. Ben tells Mary to ask Robin.

Robin goes into the garden, and he starts digging and gets something like a ring. It is not a ring, it is a key for the secret garden that was buried ten years ago.

Chapter Eight

Mary finds the key that looks like it was the secret garden’s. She decides that she will keep the key for if she finds the door to the garden. Then, she finds out that Martha is back to her house and has bought a jumping rope for Mary.

Mary does not know how to use such a thing so Martha teaches her. When she tries it, she finds out that it is fun to play with it. Then she meets the robin. She asks to lead her to the door. When she goes near the robin, a wind rushes, and she sees a door knob. She grabs it and finds a key hole so she tries the key. Then she is in the secret garden.

Chapter Nine

It is the sweetest and most mysterious looking place. Mary finds a few sharp, pale green points in the garden so she thinks the roses are dead, but some other things were alive. She weeds the garden. Then she goes  back to her room.

Mary and Martha started writing a letter to Dickon to ask him to buy garden tools and seeds for her.

Mary remembers that she is the only one to go into the garden for the last ten years, and she feels happy. She also remembers that if she is seen or caught going in and out the garden, she might be scolded and the key to the secret garden might get changed so she remembers to be careful about not being seen or noticed by people.

Chapter Ten

Mary is always eager to go to the Secret Garden, and she changes a lot. She goes outdoors a lot more.  She looks after the garden and has a lot of fun doing so. Mary and Ben are friends now. They talk about gardening together. Mary asks him about roses and many other things.

Chapter Eleven

Mary finds out that Dickson knows about the secret garden because Martha has told him. He never thought he would actually go there though, and thinks that it would be a wonderful place for birds. He and Mary clear up the garden a bit.

Dickson wonders if someone else has been tending the garden, since lots of plants are still alive despite the fact that Master Craven has kept it shut up for ten years.

Mary and Dickson quickly become good friends, but Mary is worried that when she has to leave the garden that he will disappear.


Chapter Twelve

Mary tells Martha about meeting Dickon, the latter of who is amused that Mary thinks he is “beautiful”.

Mary’s uncle has returned from his trip abroad, and has been confronted by Susan Sowerby, the mother of Dickon and Martha, for neglecting Mary. Master Craven wants to see Mary immediately because he will only be at Misselthwaite for a day. Mary is overjoyed at the idea of seeing him.

Mrs. Medlock takes Mary to see her uncle. Mary discovers that he is strange looking and seems very sad. He tells Mary that he forgot about her and asks if she wants a nurse or a teacher. Mary says no, that she’d much rather learn through play. All she wants is a place to garden.

Craven says yes to this, as it reminds him of how much his deceased wife loved to garden.

Mary is very happy and immediately goes to find Dickon in the secret garden, but he is not there. All he has left is a note promising his return.

Chapter Thirteen

Mary cannot sleep because of the storm at night. She hears someone crying, so she goes to find out who it is.

Mary finds a thin, sickly boy sitting in the middle of a gigantic bed, crying. Both of the children think the other one is a ghost.

The boy in the bed is Colin Craven, son of Master Craven. He is the same age as Mary, but very sickly. His father has practically abandoned him because Colin reminds him too much of his dead wife, and Craven will not even let the servants talk about Colin.

Colin is desperately lonely and refuses to leave the house. He is given anything he wants by his father and spoiled by the servants.

Mary tells him about the secret garden. Colin wants to see it, but Mary is worried about showing it to Colin. He promises to keep it a secret.

He says that the reason he was crying is because of his impending death, which everyone has been saying will happen before he is an adult. He reveals that his doctor is his uncle, who would inherit the manor upon Colin’s death and therefore has quite a vested interest in seeing the boy die.


Chapter Fourteen

Mary tells Martha about meeting Colin. Martha is worried that she will lose her job because she was supposed to be guarding Colin but fell asleep, but Mary says Colin wouldn’t let that happen.

Martha tells Mary that all of the servants fear Colin and his temper.

Mary and Colin become friends, as Mary does not bow to his every will like the servants do. Mary is convinced that if she takes Colin to the garden that she and Dickon can convince him to live.

Chapter Fifteen

Mary and Colin continue their friendship. Colin feels that his father does not love him, and he wishes that he had never been born.

Mary decides that she and Dickon have to find a way to bring Colin to the secret garden.

Chapter Sixteen

Mary can’t come to Colin when he requests her because she is busy. She is annoyed that this makes Colin throw a tantrum. Mary and Colin have an argument after Colin says he will forbid Dickon from ever coming to Misselthwaite if Mary does not spend more time with him instead. Mary tells him that he isn’t dying, he’s just spoiled and attention-seeking.

Craven sends Mary a selection of beautiful gifts.

In the end Mary decides to go and see Colin again, because she knows that part of his anger towards her was caused by worry about his own health.

Chapter Seventeen

Colin screams all through the night, alarming all of the servants but simply annoying Mary. He tells her that he can feel a hump growing on his back and that means he will die soon, but Mary just tells him that his back is perfectly straight, which it is.

This changes Colin’s view of himself, and Mary tells him that perhaps his illness was all imagined. Colin says that he will go outside with Mary.

Chapter Eighteen

Mary tells Dickon that Colin will be coming to the garden too, and that Dickon should come and visit Colin in the manor first. Dickon agrees.

Chapter Nineteen

Dr. Craven comes and examines Colin. Mrs. Medlock tells the doctor that Colin has improved greatly, but the doctor says that going outside may exhaust Colin. Colin says that he will be fine, and that he won’t let anyone but Mary and Dickon go with him.

Dickon and Colin meet for the first time, and although Colin is a bit shy at first, they all quickly become fast friends and start to prepare for Colin’s trip to the secret garden.

Chapter Twenty

The children cannot immediately go to the garden because of poor weather, but Dickon comes every day and tells them that the garden is still growing nicely.

Colin says that the garden must remain secret and nobody else can know of his journey here. They plan to go to the garden that day, and Colin is really excited. He is amazed by the garden and that he feels that his health is improving more and more.

Chapter Twenty-One

The children are enjoying the garden, but are discovered by Ben, who is angry that they were able to get into the garden. Ben asks if Colin is a cripple, which angers him enough to stand up from his wheelchair. He demands that Ben come into the garden and talk to them.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Colin asks Dickon if it was his magic that made him able to stand and walk, but Dickon says that it isn’t, it is just the same power that makes the garden so beautiful.

Ben says that he has actually been visiting the garden once a year, and that the former mistress of the house was fond of him. Colin says that the garden belongs to him now, planting a single rose to ceremoniously mark the garden as his.

Chapter Twenty-Three

The doctor has been waiting for Mary and Colin to return. Colin is rude to the doctor, bothering Mary.

Colin says that he will try to stop being rude.

The children enjoy all of spring in the garden along with Ben. Colin’s health improves dramatically. He keeps this positive news from everyone, so that it will be a surprise to his father when Craven returns.

Chapter Twenty-Four

Dickon tells his mother Susan about the garden, believing her to be trustworthy. He also tells her about how Colin’s health has improved, and that they are trying to keep it a secret. Susan helps them out by giving Mary and Colin extra food so that they can hide their increased appetites from the household.

Dickon also helps Colin to improve his strength through an exercise program.

Chapter Twenty-Five

The robin is making a nest and observing the actions of the children in the garden.

Colin and Mary have to stay inside because of the poor weather, but amuse themselves by exploring the house. Colin reveals a beautiful portrait of his mother, feeling himself well enough now to be worthy of seeing it.

Chapter Twenty-Six

Colin feels so well that he says he intends to write a book about the “magic” that restored his health.

The children show Susan the garden.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Craven returns to the manor, sad that he has neglected his son for so long, but eager to change. There is a happy reunion between him and Colin at the end of the story, with all of them seemingly living happily ever after.

External Links

Secret Garden, The