In 2010, Penguin released a set of limited edition children’s classics under their Puffin imprint to celebrate their 70thanniversary. The titles included James and the Giant Peach designed by sculptor Antony Gormley, Little Women by fashion designer Orla Kiely, Treasure Island by architect and sculptor Frank Gehry, Oliver Twist by artist Peter Blake, Around the World in 80 Days by architect David Adjaye, and my favourite, The Secret Garden, designed by illustrator Lauren Child.
Frances Hodgson Burnett was born in Manchester, England, in 1849 but moved to America in 1865 after her father died and her family fell on hard times. There she began writing stories to earn money and soon became a successful novelist, playwright, and children’s author. She wrote several classic novels apart from The Secret Garden, including Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess. In The Secret Garden, after losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. A secret garden and a mysterious key lead her to new friendships and understandings. It’s a delightful classic.
The cover of The Secret Garden limited edition is made of paper trees and flowers in layers that can be peeled back one by one until Mary and the garden are revealed – it’s a clever way to evoke the secrecy of the garden. The book title is not on the spine, but is written on a yellow silk ribbon bookmark with a small metal key on the end. And although there are no illustrations in this edition, the pages really pop as they are on a bright vivid green paper.
Each of the books in this set were limited to 1000 copies, and they came in a protective Perspex case. I bought them for about $70 each on pre-publication discount, but The Secret Garden unfortunately now sells for around 8 times that amount. I felt that most of the designs for this series were quite modest, with The Secret Garden being the real standout of the set, but James and the Giant Peach and Around the World in 80 Days are also quite lovely.
However, Penguin did also release a more standard ‘Centenary Edition’ in 2011 which has a much more realistic price tag. It doesn’t have the beautiful layered cover, but it does have beautifully illustrated end pages, and illustrations throughout the book, which makes it a quite delightful edition if you’re looking for a copy to read. (Note: The 2011 edition is nicer than the slightly cheaper 2013 edition, since it has a secret door in the endpapers!)
LINKS TO THE BOOKS
►Limited Edition of The Secret Garden, designed by Lauren Child (OOP): http://bit.ly/SecretGardenDesigner
►Standard Edition The Secret Garden, illustrated by Lauren Child: http://bit.ly/SecretGardenHB (note: there is a cheaper 2013 edition as well, but it doesn’t have the cut-out doorway, so it isn’t as nice)
►Limited Edition of James and the Giant Peach designed by Antony Gormley: http://bit.ly/JamesPeachDesigner
►Limited Edition of Little Women by Orla Kiely: http://bit.ly/LittleWomenDesigner
►Limited Edition of Treasure Island by Frank Gehry: http://bit.ly/TreasureIslandDesigner
►Limited Edition of Oliver Twist by Peter Blake: http://bit.ly/OliverTwistDesigner
►Limited Edition of Around the World in 80 Days by David Adjaye: http://bit.ly/80DaysDesigner
Interested in other beautiful editions of The Secret Garden? I’ve included a few of my favourites for you with links below if any of them take your fancy.