Charles Robinson – The Secret Garden Illustrations

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The Secret Garden was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett in 1910, and illustrated by Charles Robinson in 1914. 

The story follows a young orphan named Mary Lennox and a sickly boy who become unlikely friends. They discover an abandoned garden in the grounds of the house where they live, and as they tend to the garden, the pair begin to change. Mary’s temperament improves and the ill boy starts to heal and is eventually able to walk and run.  A strong theme throughout the novel is one of the restorative qualities of nature.

We’ve taken a closer look at the beautiful illustrations by Charles Robinson from The Secret Garden before the film re-make arrives in cinemas at the end of April. Starring Julie Walters and Colin Firth, it looks magical, we hope it’s as good as the book.

The Secret Garden – By Charles Robinson

‘There were trees… and a large pool with an old grey fountain in its midst.’


The Secret Garden – Illustrated by Charles Robinson

‘There was a stiff plain little girl … She wore a green brocade dress and held a green parrot on her finger.’


Charles Robinson was an illustrator from The Golden Age of Illustration, and throughout his career illustrated many great pieces of writing, these include Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1907), the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm (1910), Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911), and Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince (1913). Read more about him here.


‘A boy was sitting under a tree, playing on a rough wooden pipe.’


“Who are you?” he said at last. “Are you a ghost?” 


The Secret Garden – Illustrated by Charles Robinson

That’s fresh air,” she said. “Lie on your back and draw in long breaths of it”


He would lie on the grass “watching things growing”


 ‘A boy burst through it at full speed.’


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The Secret Garden – Illustrated by Charles Robinson

The Secret Garden – Illustrated by Charles Robinson
The Secret Garden is the timeless story of Mary Lennox, a sickly girl who is left orphaned and alone when an outbreak of cholera kills her parents and the staff of their home in India. She eventually ends up in Yorkshire with her uncle Archibald Craven and becomes inspired by the curious story of a nearby ‘secret garden’ she hears from a neighbour. This childhood classic is illustrated with ethereal and charming illustrations by Charles Robinson, brother of Thomas Robinson and W. Heath Robinson.

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“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”