The Garden and the Jungle: Burnett, Kipling and the Nature of Imperial Childhood

Mary Goodwin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Imperial British India is the point of origin for protagonists in both Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden (1911) and Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Books (1894-1895), two influential children's stories in which late Victorian notions of childhood education and nature converge with those of national and imperial identity. In Burnett's The Secret Garden, Mary Lennox, orphaned in colonial India, is restored to health only as she is "schooled" in the English countryside. Kipling, meanwhile, finds the imperial setting a fine and fitting place to raise his hero Mowgli. In both cases the young protagonists develop physically, spiritually and socially in classrooms of nature outside or parallel to mainstream culture. This paper follows the different "escapes" offered characters in these works, while tracing the contours of class structure, gender, family relations, educational standards and imperial identity as experienced in the last decades of the nineteenth century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-117
Number of pages13
JournalChildren's Literature in Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jun


  • Education
  • Empire
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Imperialism
  • Nature
  • Rudyard Kipling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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