Page 13. " I liked The Secret Garden best of all "
The Secret Garden Book Cover
Public DomainThe Secret Garden Book Cover - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was published in 1911. The room behind the closed door, which Matilda refers to, belongs to Colin. Colin is the son of Mr Craven, who has taken on the guardianship of Mary. Mary and Colin are kept a secret from one another until Mary's curiosity encourages her to investigate the room.

The mysterious door leads to the secret garden where Colin's deceased mother would spend much of her time. Although much of the garden seems to be dead, Mary discovers that some of the plants have survived and she decides to tend them and bring them back to life.



Page 15. " Great Expectations "

Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations follows the adventures of Pip, an orphan who is brought up by his violent sister and her gentle husband Joe. One of the most famous characters is an old woman called Miss Havisham, whom Pip goes to visit. Miss Havisham lives as though her life stopped on the day she was supposed to have got married. She still wears her wedding dress, which is turning into rags; everything in her house, down to the large cake laid out for the wedding feast, is just as it was all those years ago, with the addition of some mice, rats, dust and lots of cobwebs.



Page 16. " My mother goes to Aylesbury every afternoon to play bingo "

Aylesbury is a town in Buckinghamshire, in the south east of England. In 1985, archaeologists found the remains of an Iron Age hill fort in the town centre, showing that there have been people living in the area for at least 2,500 years.


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Page 21. " She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling "
Joseph Conrad
Public DomainJoseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad ran away to sea at the age of 16, and spent many years travelling all over the world, including captaining a steamer up the Congo River, a trip which would later inspire his book Heart of Darkness. Another of his books, Lord Jim, is set on the high seas. After giving up his maritime career, he settled in the UK, and, although English was his third language, he became a successful writer. 

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad on Book Drum



Ernest Hemingway
Public DomainErnest Hemingway

Like Conrad, American writer Ernest Hemingway was a committed traveller and spent many years living in Europe, where he fought in the Spanish Civil War. He also travelled to Africa, which provided him with the inspiration to write Green Hills of Africa, a non-fiction narrative of his trip and hunting excursion. 

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway on Book Drum



Rudyard Kipling
Public DomainRudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865, in the days when India was still part of the British Empire. He wrote a collection of stories that were published under the name of The Jungle Book. He is also famous for the Just So Stories, a collection of tales that explain why the animals look the way they do.

Kim by Rudyard Kipling on Book Drum



Page 24. " I felt exactly like that other brilliant fellow must have felt when he discovered penicillin. Eureka! I cried "
Archimedes in his Bath
Public DomainArchimedes in his Bath - Credit: John Leech

Penicillin, the first antibiotic to be used in medicine, was discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming. But he wasn't famous for shouting "Eureka" (Ancient Greek for "I have found it").

That comes from a story about the Ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes, who is said to have leapt from his bath and run around town naked shouting "Eureka" when the bath helped him discover how to measure the volume of an irregular object: the solution is to place it in a full bath and measure how much water it displaces.