I just thumbed through my childhood copy of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Charples Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1949) and was completely enthralled again by the colored illustrations by Ethel Franklin Betts. As a child I would look at those illustrations over and over again. Mine is a well-worn book and still very much loved.
Though not an adventure in the real sense since there are no ships or trains or visits to strange lands, the main character Sara Crewe had an adventurous time in a London boarding school. She was left there by her father, who then traveled to India to gain control of a diamond mine that would augment his already considerable fortune. Sara, though pampered and has a luxurious wardrobe, is sensitive and compassionate with her classmates and the servants at the school. Her headmistress immediately dislikes her for her popularity.
When her father’s lawyer comes to the school to report her father’s death and that his business dealing left him impoverished, the headmistress relegates Sara to scullery maid status and moves her to the school’s turret to live. She is starved and abused by the headmistress and others on the staff. To withstand her new living conditions and treatment imagines she is a prisoner in the Bastille and still a pampered princess. Even so she continues her kindnesses to others.
Meanwhile the sickly man who moves next door to the school, her father’s long lost business partner, begins his search for Sara. It is with the help of his monkey and servant Ram Dass that they reunite - the monkey liked to jump into Sara's turret room through her window. It turns out her father’s fortune was not lost after all. She moved into her father's partner's home and again treated as the princess she was always meant to be.
Sara doesn’t accept the headmistress’ plea to return to her school. Instead she continues her good works helping the needy.
Causes Madeline Sharples Supports
Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, Culver City, CA
Vistamar School, El Segundo, CA
Crossroads School, Santa Monica, CA (Endowment in...