A Stoic Little Princess
In 1865, a melancholy fog sat upon the United States. The over 600,000 dead haunted a blood-stained and fatigued American people. It was at this hiatus, amid the departing darkest days and the abrupt assassination of an American president that Frances Hodgson Burnett planted her feet on Ellis Island. Frances was born and raised in England until the age of sixteen. Yet tragically, after the sudden death of her father, young Frances and her family struggled to survive — so they sailed to America in hope of a better life.
An astute young woman, Frances loved to write short stories for magazines. The purpose, other than her passion to write, was to financially support her family. Unfortunately, tragedy struck again after arriving in Tennessee when her mother died. Yet through all the misfortune, her writing would soon give her notoriety and, more importantly, financial stability for a comfortable life.
Through her writing, she sowed and cultivated a field of wisdom for future generations. Like everyone, Frances’ life was filled with the peaks and valleys of health, sickness, happiness, and depression. She remarked that in her life the one perfect thing was the childhood of her two sons. This resonated in her stories.
Her classic works Little Lord Fauntleroy (1885), A Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1911) all are pre-eminent novels in the children’s genre. But to believe the acumen or sophistication of these novels is lacking based on their genre is a misconception. The education of young impressionable minds is the primary responsibility of adults. And simplicity is the essential ingredient to nourish young readers throughout a lifetime — a basic ingredient like wheat that is harvested to mix, knead and bake into bread.
Burnett’s novel A Little Princess teaches children the winding road to a virtuous life or, simply, to be a well-meaning person. Frances paints the novel with a simple yet complex blend of colors — illustrating with each stroke the unique journey of life. And the novel’s words are composed for the most impressionable minds of all — children. This simplistic style is not reserved just for children. The great philosophies of Western civilization promote the same…