In part written on Burnett's visits to Buile Hill Park, The Secret Garden was first serialised, starting in autumn 1910, in The American Magazine, a publication aimed at adults. The entire book was first published in the summer 1911 by Frederick A. Stokes in New York, and by Heinemann in London. The 1911 edition was illustrated by M.B.Kirk. Its copyright expired in the United States in 1987, and in most other parts of the world in 1995, placing the book in the public domain. As a result several abridged and unabridged editions were published during the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as the full color illustrated edition from David R. Godine, Publisher in 1989.
The book's working title was Mistress Mary, in reference to the English nursery rhyme Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.