Frances Eliza Hodgson was born in Manchester, England in 1849. After her father's death, her mother moved the family to America, settling near Knoxville, Tennessee in 1865. In order to assist her family financially, in her teens, Burnett began to write stories. 'Miss Carruthers’ Engagement' and 'Hearts and Diamonds' were published in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1868. She was soon earning a regular income from her writing.
From the mid-1870s onwards, Burnett published work in St. Nicholas Magazine, Scribner’s Monthly and Harper’s Bazaar. She then began to publish novels, including The Lass O’Lowries (1876), Haworth (1879), A Fair Barbarian (1881) Esmeralda (1881), Through One Administration (1883), and Sara Crewe (1888). Her 1886 work Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886) was a bestseller which cemented her reputation on both sides of the Atlanic.
During the 1890s, Burnett – a lifelong sufferer from depression and other mental illnesses – turned to Spiritualism, Theosophy, and Christian Science. After a divorce in 1898, she ensconced herself at her country home in England. Barnett pursued her love of gardening and wrote a number of works, including Emily Fox-Seton (1901), A Little Princess, and The Shuttle (1906). However, it was The Secret Garden, published in 1911, that remains her best-known work, and a classic of English children's literature.
In 1909 Burnett moved back to America and continued to write. She continued to publish a number of works, including The Dawn of Tomorrow (1909), T. Tembarom (1913), The Lost Prince (1915), Robin (1922), and The Head of the House of Coombe (1922). Burnett died in 1924, aged 74.