Fanny Burney

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Burney, Fanny,

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Madame D'Arblay

(därblā`), 1752–1840, English novelist, daughter of Charles BurneyBurney, Charles,
1726–1814, English music historian, composer, and organist. His General History of Music (1776–89; 2d ed. 1935) was one of the first important music histories in English.
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, the composer, organist, and music scholar. Although she received no formal education, she read prodigiously and had the benefit of conversation with her father's famous friends, including David GarrickGarrick, David,
1717–79, English actor, manager, and dramatist. He was indisputably the greatest English actor of the 18th cent., and his friendships with Diderot, Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, and other notables who made up "The Club" resulted in detailed records of
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, Sir Joshua ReynoldsReynolds, Sir Joshua,
1723–92, English portrait painter, b. Devonshire. Long considered historically the most important of England's painters, by his learned example he raised the artist to a position of respect in England.
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, and Samuel Crisp. Her first novel and best-known book, Evelina (1778), was published anonymously, but she soon acknowledged its authorship and achieved literary prominence. She became an intimate friend of Samuel JohnsonJohnson, Samuel,
1709–84, English author, b. Lichfield. The leading literary scholar and critic of his time, Johnson helped to shape and define the Augustan Age. He was equally celebrated for his brilliant and witty conversation.
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 and his circle. Her second novel, Cecilia, appeared in 1782, Camilla in 1796, and The Wanderer in 1814. The theme of Burney's books is the entry into society of a virtuous but inexperienced young girl, her mistakes, and her gradual coming of age. She spent five unhappy years (1786–91) as a member of Queen Charlotte's household. In 1793 she married General D'Arblay, a French émigré. Her voluminous journals and letters give an excellent account of English culture and society from 1768 to 1840.

Bibliography

See biographies by E. Hahn (1950) and C. Harman (2001); studies by M. E. Adelstein (1969), T. G. Wallace, ed. (1984), and K. Straub (1988).