Publication date: November 2010
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Frances Hodgson Burnett, (1849 - 1924) was an English-American playwright and author. She is best known for her children's stories, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and Little Lord Fauntleroy. After her father's death in 1854 her family lived in poverty in the Victorian slums of Manchester. After moving to Tennessee her mother died in 1867, which made Frances the sole support of the younger children. It was at this point that she began to write. Esmeralda was published in 1877. The story begins, "To begin, I am a Frenchman, a teacher of languages, and a poor man, --necessarily a poor man, as the great world would say, or I should not be a teacher of languages, and my wife a copyist of great pictures, selling her copies at small prices. In our own eyes, it is true, we are not so poor--my Clelie and I. Looking back upon our past we congratulate ourselves upon our prosperous condition. There was a time when we were poorer than we are now, and were not together, and were, moreover, in London instead of in Paris. These were indeed calamities: to be poor, to teach, to live apart, not even knowing each other--and in England! In England we spent years; we instructed imbeciles of all grades; we were chilled by east winds, and tortured by influenza; we vainly strove to conciliate the appalling English; we were discouraged and desolate. But this, thank _le bon Dieu!_ is past. We are united; we have our little apartment--upon the fifth floor, it is true, but still not hopelessly far from the Champs Elysees."