My early years of reading were well supplied by the public library in Mitcham, Surrey. There I found so many wonderful books and my favourite author was Frances Hodgson Burnett. The book which captivated me was The Little Princess, but I didn’t connect with The Secret Garden so much. However I was really intrigued by Burnett’s first novel Little Lord Fauntleroy
In an unimpressive part of New York in the 1880s, young Cedric Errol lived with his mother in genteel poverty after the death of his father, Captain Cedric Errol. Unknown to Cedric, his father had been the youngest son of the Earl of Dorincourt, but had never been forgiven for marrying an American woman, Cedric’s beloved mother. Now, Cedric was the only remaining heir, and his grandfather wished him to live and be educated in England. Eventually he and his mother acquiesced although she had to live separately in a widow’s house.
Cedric is a golden boy with a perfect disposition and sweet heart and yet he is not annoying. In contrast his grandfather is bad-tempered, in pain and suspicious. Gradually he is won over by Little Lord Fauntleroy as Cedric is now entitled and both the old man and the local community is a richer place for Cedric’s presence. Other complications enrich the plot and make it worthwhile read even today.
The Fauntleroy suit, described by Frances Hodgson Burnett and portrayed in Reginald Birch’s drawings above, made this style of clothing very popular for American middle-class children at the turn of the century.
Perhaps you have seen the film or read the book. What did you think about it?