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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.