Christian Science Versus the Rest Cure in Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden
In The Secret Garden (1911), Frances Hodgson Burnett presented Christian Science as an alternative to the popular rest cure invented by Philadelphia neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell. Burnett, who underwent several unsuccessful rest cures for her depression, eventually turned to Christian Science, aspects of which surface in The Secret Garden. The novel's child protagonist, Mary Lennox, stands in for charismatic leader Mary Baker Eddy. Mary rehabilitates her reclusive uncle and her cousin Colin, a bedridden hysteric. By showing a young female healer curing hysterical males, Burnett inverted the gender politics of the rest cure and contradicted its key principles.