Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett (November 24, 1849 – October 29, 1924) was an English playwright and author. She is best known for her children’s stories, in particular The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and Little Lord Fauntleroy.
Born Frances Eliza Hodgson, she lived in Cheetham Hill, Manchester. After the death of her father the family was forced to sell their home, and suffered economic hardship. Until she was sixteen she lived in Salford, and when she was sixteen the family emigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee. There Burnett turned to writing to help earn money for the family, publishing stories in magazines by the time she was nineteen. In 1872 she married Swan Burnett. They lived in Paris for two years where their two sons were born, before returning to the United States to live in Washington D.C. There she began to write novels, the first of which That Lass o’ Lowries, was published to good reviews. The publication of Little Lord Fauntleroy in 1886 made her a popular writer of children’s fiction, although her romantic adult novels written in the 1890s were also popular. She wrote and helped to produce stage versions of Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Little Princess.
Burnett enjoyed socializing and lived a lavish lifestyle. Beginning in the 1880s she began to travel to England frequently and bought a home there in the 1890s. Her oldest son, Lionel, died of tuberculosis in 1892, which caused a relapse of the depression she struggled with for much of her life. She divorced Swan Burnett (who disapproved of his wife’s literary activities—which were the main source of the family’s income) in 1898 and remarried in 1900, although her second marriage only lasted for a year. At the end of her life she settled in Long Island, where she died in 1924. [Wikipedia]
One day she was on the beach and saw the local swimming instructor in a bathing suit. In a subsequent letter, Burnett gasped her was a “Greek God in bronze…I never noticed a man’s body before. I was always so actively employed searching for their brains—but his—Mon dieu! Gott in Himmel! Santa Maria—and things! …I grow wild, and have to erase!” [Remember the Ladies, Kirsten Olsen]