Fanny Burney

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Burney, Fanny

Burney, Fanny, later Madame D'Arblay (därblāˈ), 1752–1840, English novelist, daughter of Charles Burney, 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 Garrick, Sir Joshua Reynolds, 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 Johnson 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.


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).

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One exception in respect of sposo/sposa can be found in the correspondence of Horace Mann with his friend Horace Walpole in the early 1740s; but Mann is writing from Florence about real Italians, and the expression is without any taint of affectation or exoticism.(2) It may be no accident that we start to encounter this form of reference more pervasively in the early diary of Fanny Burney around 1771, just after her father the musicologist had returned from his field-trip to Italy.
Unlike Fanny Burney, Young understood how to have a conversation with the King, who talked to him not only about hogs and crops but about writing, a subject which interested him passionately.
"Fanny Burney and the Courtesy Books Author(s)." PMLA 65.5 (1950): 732-61.
Fanny Burney comes as close as any, in her description of her mastectomy:
I'm not sure there's any other place where one can find, within the same covers, Fanny Burney's 1811 letter to her sister about her mastectomy, Barbara Seaman's classic "A Pill for Men" and an interview with Byllye Avery, who created the National Black Women's Health Project in the U.S.
(Austin Dobson's 1904-5 edition did not change the text.) This new venture, admirably edited, contains all known letters and journal entries kept by Fanny Burney during her time at Court (1786-1791).
On her 15th birthday, possibly at the instigation of her father or future stepmother, Fanny Burney (1752-1840) wrote that she attempted to 'combat' her passion for writing by creating a bonfire of all her works to date.
Chisholm, Kate 1998: Fanny Burney: Her Life 1752-1840.
The book's chapter on general surgery contains excerpts from a letter written by Fanny Burney, a patient who underwent a mastectomy in 1811 without anesthesia at the hand of Napoleon's surgeon, Dominique-Jean Larrey.
Observing Johnson in conversation with Edmund Burke, the young novelist Fanny Burney opined that for sheer brilliance Burke was "the second man in this Kingdom," but that Johnson was "the first of every kingdom." Praise indeed, for along with Burke, the most dazzling politician of the age, Johnson's close social circle included Edward Gibbon (whose History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire achieved a sustained perfection in prose that has perhaps never been matched), Oliver Goldsmith, Adam Smith, Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the great naturalist Joseph Banks, the portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick (the Olivier of his day), and the irrepressibly naughty and amusing young James Boswell, who would one day write The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D.
The evidence also shows that women's literature was far less likely to enjoy enduring popularity than was that written by men : in a chapter devoted to identifying the emergence of 'canonical' texts, defined here as novels whose popularity could be demonstrated more than fifteen years after publication, only four novels by women (including two by Fanny Burney) made it into a list which was otherwise dominated by Defoe, Richardson, Fielding and Smollett.
Fanny Burney, the novelist and diarist, visited, though an account she left in her journal in 1792 details a social encounter in the gallery, not a profound communion with Shakespeare.