A Little Princess
A Little Princess is a 1905
1905 in literature
The year 1905 in literature involved some significant new books.-Events:*L. Frank Baum's Animal Fairy Tales are published in The Delineator magazine from January to September....

 children's novel
Children's literature
Children's literature is for readers and listeners up to about age twelve; it is often defined in four different ways: books written by children, books written for children, books chosen by children, or books chosen for children. It is often illustrated. The term is used in senses which sometimes...

 by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett was an English playwright and author. She is best known for her children's stories, in particular The Secret Garden , A Little Princess, and Little Lord Fauntleroy.Born Frances Eliza Hodgson, she lived in Cheetham Hill, Manchester...

. It is a revised and expanded version of Burnett's 1888 serialized novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 entitled Sara Crewe: or, What Happened at Miss Minchin's Boarding School, which was published in St. Nicholas Magazine
St. Nicholas Magazine
St. Nicholas Magazine was a popular children's magazine, founded by Scribner's in 1873. The first editor was Mary Mapes Dodge, who continued her association with the magazine until her death in 1905. Dodge published work by the country's best writers, including Louisa May Alcott, Francis Hodgson...


According to Burnett, she discovered that she had missed out a great deal of things when writing the novella. She had been composing a play based on the story when she found out a lot of characters she had missed. The publisher asked her to publish a new, revised story of the novella, producing the novel.

Source material

The novella appears to have been inspired in part by Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, whose novels are English literature standards...

's unfinished novel, Emma, the first two chapters of which were published in Cornhill Magazine
Cornhill Magazine
The Cornhill Magazine was a Victorian magazine and literary journal named after Cornhill Street in London.Cornhill was founded by George Murray Smith in 1860 and was published until 1975. It was a literary journal with a selection of articles on diverse subjects and serialisations of new novels...

 in 1860, featuring a rich heiress with a mysterious past who is apparently abandoned at a boarding school.

The thread of the book is evident in the novellas, in which Sara Crewe is left at Miss Minchin's, loses her father, is worked as a drudge, and is surprised with the kindness of an Indian gentleman who turns out to be Captain Crewe's friend. However, at just over one-third the length of the later book, the novella is much less detailed.

Many of the characters in the book are loosely defined or not at all. The students are treated as a group; only Ermengarde is mentioned by name, and her interaction with Sara is limited to Sara's asking her for books. Much of the Large Family is only mentioned by name, and Sara only observes them from afar; the father is not linked to Mr. Carrisford until the end.

Generally, the novel expanded on things in the novella; Captain Crewe's "investments" are only referred to briefly and generally, and much of the information revealed in conversations in the novel is simply summarized. However, there are details in the novella which were dropped for the novel. While a drudge, Sara is said to have frequented a library, in which she read books about women in rough circumstances being rescued by princes and other powerful men. In addition, Mr. Carrisford's illness is specified as liver trouble.

After writing Sara Crewe, Burnett returned to the material in 1902, penning the three-act stage play A Little Un-fairy Princess, which ran in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 over the autumn of that year. Around the time it transferred to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 at the start of 1903, however, the title was shortened to the one with which it became famous: A Little Princess. (It was A Little Princess in London, but The Little Princess in New York.)

The play was a success on Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

, and it is probable that this triumph is what led Burnett to revise it yet again, this time as an expanded, full-length novel. Both versions of the book remain in print, although A Little Princess is better known.


Sara Crewe is a very intelligent, polite, and creative young girl. Born to a wealthy soldier in India, Sara was brought all the way to London in Victorian-era England for a formal education. At the upscale boarding school, Sara is forced to tolerate the haughty, disdainful headmistress, Miss Minchin.

Unfortunately, things only get worse for Sara when her father's bankruptcy and death leave her impoverished and at the mercy of the jealous Miss Minchin. Sara undergoes numerous trials as she humbly allows herself to be subjected to servitude, but with the help of several dear friends (both seen and unseen), she remains as proud and unwavering and imaginative as ever, proving to all that anyone can be, as the title says, "a little princess". Then, thanks to one of her father's friends, the Crewe family fortune is recovered, and Sara is rescued from the flabbergasted Miss Minchin's cruelty.

New musical versions

Due in part to the novel's public domain
Public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...

 status, several musical versions of A Little Princess have emerged in recent years, including:
  • A Little Princess, Princess Musicals http://www.princessmusicals.com Book and Lyrics by Michael Hjort, Music by Camille Curtis.
  • Sara Crewe, premiered May 2007 at Needham (Boston, MA) Community Theater, first full production November 2007 at the Blackwell Playhouse, Marietta, Georgia; music, lyrics, and book by Miriam Raiken-Kolb and Elizabeth Ellor
  • Sara Crewe: A Little Princess, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston, 2006. Music and libretto by Susan Kosoff and Jane Staab
  • A Little Princess, TheatreWorks, Palo Alto, California
    Palo Alto, California
    Palo Alto is a California charter city located in the northwest corner of Santa Clara County, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, United States. The city shares its borders with East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Stanford, Portola Valley, and Menlo Park. It is...

    , premiered 2004. Music by Andrew Lippa
    Andrew Lippa
    Andrew Lippa is an American composer, lyricist, book writer, performer, and producer. He is a resident artist at the Ars Nova Theater in New York City.-Biography:...

    ; book by Brian Crawley; directed by Susan H. Schulman
    Susan H. Schulman
    Susan H. Schulman is an American theater director.Intent on a career as an actress, Schulman studied drama at Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island, New York in the 1960s. She attended Yale University on a playwrighting fellowship, graduating with a Master's Degree...

  • A Little Princess, Wings Theatre, New York, 2003. Book and Direction by Robert Sickinger; music and lyrics by Mel Atkey
    Mel Atkey
    Mel Atkey is a Canadian born, English emigrated musical theatre composer and lyricist. He began to write musicals while still in high school. After college, he was a theatre critic in Canada, continued to write musicals and songs and served as director of Cabaret and Musical Theater Alliance...

    , musical director Mary Ann Ivan
  • A Little Princess, Children's Musical Theater San Jose, May 2002. Book and lyrics by Tegan McLane, music by Richard Link
    Richard Link
    Richard Link is a Canadian composer, musical director, teacher, and performer living in London. An accomplished pianist, he often music directs, conducts, and plays for his own productions.-Personal history and education:...

  • A Little Princess, Bodens Youth Theatre, London, premiering February 2012. Music and lyrics by Marc Folan, book by Adam Boden.

Some of these productions have made significant changes to the book, story and characters, most notably the Sickinger/Atkey version, which moves the action to Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

-era America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

  • Princesses, a 2004 musical currently in development for Broadway, features students at a boarding school presenting a production of A Little Princess. Music and book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner; lyrics and direction by David Zippel
    David Zippel
    David Joel Zippel is an American musical theatre lyricist.-Biography:Zippel was born in Easton, Pennsylvania. He is a 1976 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. While there, he wrote a "bizarre political musical" called Rotunda...


Related books

In 1995, Apple published a series of three books written by Gabrielle Charbonnet. The "Princess series" was an updated version of the classic, with the title character named Molly, rather than Sara. Molly Stewart's father was a famous film director who left his daughter in a posh upscale boarding school. There were three books in the series, which ended in a similar way as the original.
  • A Little Princess
    A Little Princess
    A Little Princess is a 1905 children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a revised and expanded version of Burnett's 1888 serialized novel entitled Sara Crewe: or, What Happened at Miss Minchin's Boarding School, which was published in St. Nicholas Magazine.According to Burnett, she...

  • Molly's Heart
  • A Room on the Attic
  • Home At Last
    Home at Last
    Home at Last is a song by Steely Dan, and is the fifth track on their 1977 album Aja. It is inspired by the epic poem The Odyssey, reflecting the feelings associated with a long-awaited homecoming; Walter Becker and Donald Fagen referenced this on the video The Making Of Aja.Original Steely Dan...

  • A sequel to "A Little Princess" was written by Hilary McKay and was published in 2009. The story is titled "Wishing For Tomorrow" and tells the story of what happened to the rest of the boarding school girls after Sara and Becky left.


  • 1917 version: Mary Pickford
    Mary Pickford
    Mary Pickford was a Canadian-born motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...

     as Sara and Katherine Griffith as Miss Minchin.

  • 1939 version
    A Little Princess (1939 film)
    The Little Princess is a 1939 American drama film directed by Walter Lang. The screenplay by Ethel Hill and Walter Ferris is based on the novel A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The film was the first Shirley Temple movie to be filmed completely in Technicolor...

    : Shirley Temple
    Shirley Temple
    Shirley Temple Black , born Shirley Jane Temple, is an American film and television actress, singer, dancer, autobiographer, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia...

     as Sara and Mary Nash
    Mary Nash
    -Early life:Nash was born on August 15, 1884 in Troy, New York, to parents Philip Nash, who worked for B. F. Keith Vaudeville Circuit, and Ellen Frances MacNamara. She was educated at the Convent of St. Anne in Montreal and trained for acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts...

     as Miss Minchin.

  • 1995 Filipino
    Filipino language
    This move has drawn much criticism from other regional groups.In 1987, a new constitution introduced many provisions for the language.Article XIV, Section 6, omits any mention of Tagalog as the basis for Filipino, and states that:...

     version: entitled Sarah, Ang Munting Princesa (lit. "Sarah, the Little Princess") which starred Camille Prats
    Camille Prats
    Camille Prats is a Filipina actress. Her full name is Sheena Patricia Camille Quiambao Prats. After her pregnancy, she came back on her Home Network GMA-7 to play Lily Cervantes in the drama series Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan?...

     as Sarah and Jean Garcia
    Jean García
    Jessica Maitim is a Filipina television and film actress, better known as Jean Garcia who hails from Angeles City, Pampanga.-Biography:...

     as Miss Minchin. It was inspired by the entry of the anime
    is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

     version Princess Sarah
    Princess Sarah
    is a 1985 Japanese anime series produced by Nippon Animation, based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel, A Little Princess. Spanning 46 episodes, it originally premiered in 1985 across Japan on Fuji Television as the 11th series of Nippon Animation's famous World Masterpiece Theater staple.It was...

    , which became a hit in the Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    . The movie was partly filmed in Scotland
    Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

    . It was produced by Star Cinema
    Star Cinema
    ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc. , is the wholly owned film production subsidiary of ABS-CBN Corporation. It is the Philippines' largest film production, producing most of the highest grossing films in the Philippines.-1994:...

     and ABS-CBN
    ABS–CBN Corporation is a Philippine-based media conglomerate. It is the Philippines' largest media and entertainment conglomerate. The corporation was the merger of Alto Broadcasting System which at that time owned by James Lindenberg and Antonio Quirino, and the Chronicle Broadcasting Network ...


  • 1995 version
    A Little Princess (1995 film)
    A Little Princess is a 1995 American children's film directed by Alfonso Cuarón, starring Liesel Matthews, Eleanor Bron, Liam Cunningham, and Vanessa Lee Chester. Set during World War I, it focuses on a young girl who is relegated to a life of servitude in a New York City boarding school by the...

    : Liesel Matthews
    Liesel Matthews
    Liesel Anne Pritzker , stage name Liesel Matthews, is an American former child actress and heiress to the Hyatt Hotels fortune...

     as Sara and Eleanor Bron
    Eleanor Bron
    Eleanor Bron is an English stage, film and television actress and author.-Early life and family:Bron was born in 1938 in Stanmore, Middlesex, to a Jewish family of Eastern European origin...

     as Miss Minchin, this adaptation notably differs from the original in that Sara's father is wounded in wartime, and later is reunited with his daughter.

  • 1997 Russian film Malenkaya printsessa (ru): Anastasiya Meskova as Sara and Alla Demidova
    Alla Demidova
    Alla Sergeyevna Demidova is a Russian actress internationally acclaimed for the tragic parts in innovative plays staged by Yuri Lyubimov in the Taganka Theatre. She was awarded the USSR State Prize in 1977.- Biography :...

     as Miss Minchin.


  • 1973 version: Deborah Makepeace as Sara and Ruth Dunning
    Ruth Dunning
    Ruth Dunning was a Welsh actress of stage, television, and film. She first came to prominence in the role of Gladys Grove in BBC Television's The Grove Family , also portraying that character in the 1955 film It's a Great Day...

     as Miss Minchin. This was very faithful to the novel.

  • 1986 version
    A Little Princess (1986 TV serial)
    A Little Princess is a mini-series based upon the novel, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was directed by Carol Wiseman and stars Amelia Shankley as Sara Crewe, Jessica Simpson as Lottie, and Maureen Lipman as Miss Minchin....

    : Amelia Shankley
    Amelia Shankley
    Amelia Shankley is a British actress.Shankley is known for her role as Sara Crewe in the 1986 LWT version of A Little Princess, based upon the novel, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. She first appeared in the 1985 film Dreamchild as the young Alice Liddell...

     as Sara and Maureen Lipman
    Maureen Lipman
    Maureen Diane Lipman CBE is a British film, theatre and television actress, columnist and comedienne.-Early life:Lipman was born in Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, the daughter of Maurice Julius Lipman and Zelma Pearlman. Her father was a tailor; he used to have a shop between the...

     as Miss Minchin. This was also a faithful adaptation.

  • Princess Sara: a 1985 Japanese
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

    is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

     series, which was featured as part of Nippon Animation
    Nippon Animation
    is a Japanese animation studio. The company is headquartered in Tokyo, with chief offices in the Ginza district of Chūō and production facilities in Tama City....

    's World Masterpiece Theater
    World Masterpiece Theater
    is a Japanese TV anime staple that showcased an animated version of a different classical book or story each year on 7:30p.m. on Sunday. It originally aired from 1969 to 1997 then resumed in 2007....

    staple. The series spanned 46 episodes, including a few new characters and adventures along the way. It was considered to be the best of the adaptations featured in the series. Sarah, the main character, was voiced by Sumi Shimamoto
    Sumi Shimamoto
    , real name , is a veteran Japanese voice actress born on December 8, 1954, in Kōchi, Kōchi Prefecture, Japan. After graduating from the Toho Gakuen School of Music, she joined Gekidan Seinenza, a theatrical acting troupe...


  • Sōkō no Strain
    Soko no Strain
    is a mecha anime series by Studio Fantasia. It premiered across Japan on WOWOW from November 1, 2006. A manga adaptation is being serialized in the Dragon Age magazine...

    , a 2006 anime that completely reworks the story into a mecha
    A mech , is a science fiction term for a large walking bipedal tank or robot, including ones on treads and animal shapes.-Characteristics:...

     series about "Sara Werec", whose ability to pilot a mecha is taken away when her brother, Ralph, betrays and disgraces the family.

  • Princess Sarah, a Filipino 2007 remake.

  • Shōkōjo Seira
    Shōkōjo Seira
    is a 2009 Japanese drama, airing on Saturdays from 7:56pm, at TBS. The main character Seira, played by Mirai Shida, overcomes many ordeals at the Millenius Seminary boarding school...

    a 2009 remake with the main character Japanese and named Seira, aged 16 when her father dies, and as an Indian Princess. Becky is changed to a male and a romantic lead.
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