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Fanny Burney (1752–1840)

Author of Evelina

89+ Works 4,948 Members 73 Reviews 35 Favorited

About the Author

Frances ("Fanny") Burney 1752 - 1840 Frances Burney also known as Fanny Burney and, after her marriage, as Madame d'Arblay, was an English novelist, diarist and playwright. She was born on June 13, 1752 and wrote four novels (Evelina, Cecilia, Camilla and The Wanderer). Her first novel was written show more anonymously in 1778, without her father¿s knowledge or permission. After it became a literary success, she admitted to her father that she was the author. Her novels were read by many, including Jane Austen whose title Pride and Prejudice was formed from reading the last pages of Burney's novel, Cecilia. Burney is more well known for her journals. She kept a diary for 72 years. In these diaries she recounts a first-hand look at English society in the 18th Century. In 1810 when she suffered from breast pain, it was believed that she had breast cancer; she elected to have a mastectomy performed. This procedure is retold in her journals, and as there was no anesthesia at the time and she was conscious throughout, the entries for this mastectomy are very compelling. In 1793 Burney married General Alexandre d'Arblay, a French general to Lafayette. They had one child, Alexander. In her later years, Burney lived in Bath, England. She is buried there in Walcot Cemetery with her husband and son. Burney died on January 6, 1840 at 87 years of age. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Disambiguation Notice:

Do not combine her with her niece and namesake Frances Burney (1776–1828), a governess known to have written one work, Tragic Dramas (1818).

Image credit: Engraving by Charles Turner, published 1840
Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery
(image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)


Works by Fanny Burney

Evelina (1778) 2,471 copies
Camilla (1796) 585 copies
The Wanderer (1814) 214 copies
The diary of Fanny Burney (1940) 65 copies
Fanny Burney's Diary (1961) 33 copies
Fanny Burney (1903) 14 copies
A Busy Day (1800) 14 copies
Memoirs of Doctor Burney (2010) 6 copies
The Witlings (2016) 1 copy

Associated Works

The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists (2000) — Contributor, some editions — 548 copies
Eighteenth Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology (1989) — Contributor — 118 copies
The Penguin Book of Women's Humour (1996) — Contributor — 117 copies
The Portable Johnson & Boswell (1947) — Contributor, some editions — 96 copies
Famous stories of five centuries (1934) — Contributor — 4 copies


1001 (62) 1001 books (68) 1001 books you must read before you die (29) 18th century (422) 18th century literature (57) 19th century (28) anthology (108) biography (86) British (138) British literature (112) Burney (48) classic (117) classics (180) diary (180) ebook (39) England (90) English (55) English literature (118) epistolary (68) Fanny Burney (78) fiction (671) history (46) humor (45) journal (35) Kindle (49) letters (74) literature (155) London (28) memoir (42) non-fiction (69) novel (157) own (28) Oxford World's Classics (33) poetry (40) read (53) romance (73) to-read (363) unread (55) women (60) women authors (29)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Burney, Fanny
Legal name
Burney, Frances
Other names
Madame d'Arblay (married name)
Burney, Fanny
Date of death
Burial location
Walcot Cemetery, Bath, England, UK
King's Lynn, England, UK
Place of death
Bath, Somerset, England, UK
Places of residence
King's Lynn, Norfolk, England, UK
London, England, UK
Leicester, Leicestershire, England, UK
Paris, France
Bath, Somerset, England, UK
Burney, Charles (father)
Burney, James (brother)
Burney, Sarah Harriet (half-sister)
Maitland, Julia Charlotte (great-niece)
Bluestocking Society
Short biography
Frances "Fanny" Burney was the daughter of a well-known musicologist. She basically educated herself at home by her reading, and began writing at age 10. Her home in London was a center for musical gatherings attended and performed by elite English and European artists and musicians, and Fanny observed and moved easily among these personalities. She became an extremely popular and bestselling author whose works were admired by Samuel Johnson, Hester Thrale, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and many other literary lights. Her first novel Evelina (1778), proved to be her greatest success and is still read today. In 1786, she was given a post at Court serving Queen Charlotte. She met and married a French exile, General Alexandre d'Arblay, and went with him to France, where she lived for 10 years. She's sometimes referred to as Madame d'Arblay. After her husband's death in 1818, she returned to London. An edition of her journals and letters in eight volumes was published in 1972–1980.
Disambiguation notice
Do not combine her with her niece and namesake Frances Burney (1776–1828), a governess known to have written one work, Tragic Dramas (1818).



Group read: The Wanderer by Frances Burney in Virago Modern Classics (October 2018)
Group read: Camilla by Frances Burney in Virago Modern Classics (June 2018)
Group read: Cecilia by Fanny Burney in Virago Modern Classics (January 2016)
Group read: Evelina by Fanny Burney in 75 Books Challenge for 2015 (July 2015)
Burney's Evelina in 1001 Books to read before you die (July 2007)


Read for a Romantic Women's Writers graduate seminar. While some of the satire is beyond me, I found this to be an entirely joyful read. Never a dull moment in the life of Evelina - and though a reader might mistake this for another cautionary tale of a young lady in the late 18th century, it is anything but. Give it a go, my lovelies! I don't think you'll be at all disappointed!
BreePye | 38 other reviews | Oct 6, 2023 |
I don't think this is a good place to start in reading Fanny Burney. It was rather dry and referred to a lot of things and people I am unfamiliar with. I think a serious Burney fan would enjoy this more.
nx74defiant | Mar 2, 2023 |
I did not love Evelina as much the third time around. Also, it's been a number of years since I read it, and I think my tastes and level of tolerance has changed a little. This is a really, really long book, and though I enjoyed the last section, where Evelina and Lord Orville (who is honestly a little too idealized) actually get a chance at figuring each other out, my patience ran thin for all of the horrible people Evelina has to hang out with. The main thing I came away with was pity for the helplessness of young women back in the day. And even though Evelina is a person of sense and good judgment, she has to hide it most of the time in order to be polite. I'm not saying we don't do something similar nowadays, but the language of excessive decorum got a little tiring. And then it swung to the other extreme of spending way too much time on scenes where vulgar people are making mischief. There was hardly anybody ever talking sense. Even Evelina's guardian, who is supposed to be the ultimate voice of reason, mostly just talks about how he is looking forward to dying in her arms. I have to wonder, was all this kind of thing common in letter-writing and speech of the day? Or is it an exaggerated reality that people were supposed to aspire to?
As a reader, I always felt like Evelina was a bit of an enigma to me, in spite of the fact that nearly all of the hundreds of letters were written by her. I think it's because, though she is describing what happens to her in society, one gets the sense that she never really participates in it. Mostly she just watches and then feels appropriately disturbed or contented. No doubt she was seen as a paragon of womanly virtue at the time of publication, but it's hard to read without feeling the injustice of it.
It is interesting to view this as a prototype of women's literature. Jane Austen's novels, which came a few decades later, show society as still a mix of posh and crass, but with more of an insistence that there is a middle ground, and her heroines, while still polite, are less afraid to express their thoughts in conversation. She has also nicely pared down her dialogue and descriptions, so that they are not nearly as high-flown as Mrs. Burney's.
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Alishadt | 38 other reviews | Feb 25, 2023 |
I enjoyed this to some degree just because I'm a friend to 19th century literature in general. There were high points and low points in the story. I liked secondary characters better than the main characters, and was unhappy with the length of time it took to resolve things that should have been very simple. Lack of communication between the main characters became frustrating.
Alishadt | 3 other reviews | Feb 25, 2023 |



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