Burnett Fountain

Burnett Fountain is a memorial to the children’s book author Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849–1924), known for her novels The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and A Little Princess.

The fountain is located at one end of a water lily pool in the Conservatory Garden’s English-style garden. The two figures featured in the fountain, a reclining boy playing the flute and a young girl holding a birdbath, are reminiscent of Mary and Dickon, the main characters in The Secret Garden.

Following Burnett’s death in 1924, friends of the author wanted to memorialize her through the creation of a storytelling area and garden in Central Park, near Conservatory Water. They formed a Children’s Garden Building Committee in 1927 and commissioned the sculptor Bessie Potter Vonnoh to create an original work of art inspired by Burnett’s books. The Committee’s plans were never realized, and the memorial fountain was placed in storage. When the Conservatory Garden opened to the public in 1937, Park administrators decided that the Burnett Fountain would be a fitting addition to the southern, English-style portion of the garden, evocative of a secret garden.

Burnett Fountain is one of several monuments in the Park dedicated to historic women. While the figure of Burnett is not directly represented in the sculpture, the form and function of the artwork honor her accomplishments. Two other monuments to women depict characters from a storybook. Alice in Wonderland, a memorial to Margarita Delacorte, and the Sophie Loeb Fountain both depict scenes and characters from the popular children’s book.

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