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 novelentitled Sara Crewe: or, What Happened at Miss Minchin’s Boarding School, which was published in St. Nicholas Magazine. According to Burnett, 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.
Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.” It was one of the “Top 100 Chapter Books” of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.
There were actually three versions of this story in the end. Says Twentieth-Century Children’s Writers, in the publication St. Nicholas the short story, “Sara Crewe [Or What Happened at Miss Minchin's?] first appeared in 1887. It was a story drawing on some of her experiences as a child at the Miss Hadfields’ school in Manchester, but was set in London. Like nearly all Burnett’s stories, its theme is the reversal of fortune.” Still. It wasn’t quite enough. Burnett would later say, “Between the lines of every story there is another story. … When I wrote Sara Crewe I guessed that a great deal more had happened at Miss Minchin’s than I had time to find out just then.” In 1902 Burnett turned the story of Sara Crewe into a play. “The following year, her editor at Scribner’s came up with the suggestion that she write a new, longer version of the book under the play’s title, A Little Princess, incorporating the new material she had introduced in the play. He wanted the book quickly, the play was still running and sales would be splendid. Fortunately at that point Burnett was committed to two other plays. The book was not rushed and was not finally finished until November 1904.”