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British and Irish Literature Frances Burney
by
Peter Sabor, Hilary Havens

Introduction

Frances Burney (b. 1752–d. 1840), the third child of the famous musicologist Dr. Charles Burney and his wife, Esther Sleepe Burney, was born in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Before her eighth birthday the family moved to London, where she began writing journals, plays, and a novel, all voluntarily destroyed in 1767 on her fifteenth birthday. In 1768 she resumed her journal writing, and in 1778 she published her first novel, Evelina, anonymously. The revelation of its authorship brought Burney immediate fame and led to her friendships with Samuel Johnson and members of his circle, including David Garrick and Hester Thrale. When her first play, The Witlings, was suppressed at the urging of her father and a family friend, Samuel Crisp, she began work on her second novel, Cecilia, published to great acclaim in 1782. After an abortive courtship by George Cambridge, in 1786 she accepted a position at court as Keeper of the Robes to Queen Charlotte. Here, embittered by the harshness of her domineering colleague Elizabeth Schwellenberg, she endured an unhappy existence until 1791. In 1793 she married Alexandre d’Arblay, an aristocratic but penniless French refugee in England; their only child, Alexander, was born in 1795. She wrote her third novel, Camilla (1796), to provide an inheritance for their son and to build their home, Camilla Cottage, at Norbury Park, the seat of her friends the Lockes. Burney and her husband lived in France from 1802 to 1812, interned there by Napoleon. She was also in France in 1814–1815, recording in her journals the final stages of the Napoleonic wars. French and English relations are major themes in her final novel, The Wanderer (1814). Widowed in 1818, she lived in London for the remainder of her life, publishing the autobiographical Memoirs of Doctor Burney in 1832. In addition to her novels, Burney is distinguished for her dramatic writing and her journals and letters. She wrote four comic dramas and four tragedies. None of these was published, and only one, the tragedy Edwy and Elgiva, was produced during her lifetime. Burney’s journals and letters, written over a seventy-year period from 1768 to 1839, are renowned for their remarkable range and variety, and for her ability to bring the world around her to life.

General Overviews

These representative general studies, published over a span of more than forty years, take up a broad range of themes. The earlier studies are often sociohistorical: Devlin 1987 discusses the significance of the publication dates of Burney’s novels, while Adelstein 1968 links Burney’s writings to her life, along with social and economic issues. Most critical studies after the mid-1980s have been heavily influenced by feminism. Straub 1987 examines the difficulties Burney experienced as she became a published author. Simons 1987 is a feminist survey of major themes in Burney’s novels. Anger and violence are also popular subthemes: Epstein 1989 finds latent and explicit sources of rage in Burney’s writings; Rogers 1990, in contrast, reads Burney as a conventional figure who could only vent her emotions subversively; while Zonitch 1997 interprets the violence in Burney’s prose as her reaction to the diminishing power of the patriarchy. In recent years, studies of Burney have often been the fruits of international scholarship: Song 2005 considers the significance of naming in Burney’s novels and life, while Saggini 2012 explores theatrical elements within Burney’s prose.

  • Adelstein, Michael E. Fanny Burney. New York: Twayne, 1968.

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    A biographical approach to Burney’s works, including the Memoirs of Doctor Burney. Argues that Burney’s writings reflect her own social and economic problems and the influence of her father and Samuel Crisp.

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  • Devlin, D. D. The Novels and Journals of Fanny Burney. New York: St. Martin’s, 1987.

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    Reads Burney’s novels in their historical contexts, positing that their dates of publication are significant. Singles out The Wanderer for praise, terming it a “profoundly historical” novel that “reveals more of its author than the earlier novels or journals do.”

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  • Epstein, Julia. The Iron Pen: Frances Burney and the Politics of Women’s Writing. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.

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    A feminist reading of all of Burney’s novels that connects them to her journals and various aspects of her life. Suggests that implicit and explicit “reservoirs of rage” in Burney’s writings are linked to the constricted situation of women toward the end of the 18th century.

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  • Rogers, Katharine M. Frances Burney: The World of Female Difficulties. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990.

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    Emphasizes Burney’s conventional leanings and proposes that each of her novels blends her acceptance of prevailing social norms with her transgressive protest against them.

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  • Saggini, Francesca. Backstage in the Novel: Frances Burney and the Theater Arts. Translated by Laura Kopp. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012.

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    Focuses on affinities between the 18th-century novel and the theater, highlighting theatrical elements in Burney’s fiction. Contains chapters on Evelina, The Witlings, Cecilia, and The Wanderer, as well as a comprehensive appendix on the actors and the theatrical and musical performances mentioned in Burney’s writings between 1768 and 1804.

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  • Simons, Judy. Fanny Burney. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1987.

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    Part of the Women Writers series, which rehabilitates neglected women writers. Praises Evelina and The Busy Day, but contends that Burney’s major literary contribution is her influence on later writers.

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  • Song, Min. The Problem of the Name: A Culture-Oriented Eclectic Approach to the Issue of Identity in Frances Burney’s World. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2005.

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    The first monograph on Burney published in China, where there is an emerging field of Burney criticism. It focuses on the trope of naming, a central problem in both Burney’s life and works.

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  • Straub, Kristina. Divided Fictions: Fanny Burney and Feminine Strategy. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1987.

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    Focuses on Burney’s entrance into the literary world, and hence on her first two novels, though chapters on Evelina occupy more than half of the book. A feminist interpretation that explores the alienating experience of public authorship on the private, female self.

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  • Zonitch, Barbara. Familiar Violence: Gender and Social Upheaval in the Novels of Frances Burney. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1997.

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    Interprets Burney’s preoccupation with violence as her response to the “death of aristocratic social domination”; without the protection of paternalism, women are subjected to the “escalating violence of the modern world.” Contains chapters on each of Burney’s novels, focusing on the difficulties experienced by her heroines.

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Primary Texts

The modern editing of Burney’s novels began with Evelina in 1968; scholarly editions of Burney’s later novels followed in 1972 (Camilla), 1988 (Cecilia), and 1991 (The Wanderer). One of Burney’s eight plays, Edwy and Elgiva, was edited as early as 1957, while a collected edition appeared in 2005. Burney’s later journals and letters from 1791 to 1839 were edited in twelve volumes (1972–1984), while her early journals and letters from 1768 to 1783 appeared in five volumes (1988–2012). Editions of the remaining journals and letters, from 1784 to 1791, are in progress.

Novels

Burney’s Evelina has been published in a wide range of scholarly editions. The two standard editions are Doody 1994 and Bloom 2002, which contain explanatory notes and fine critical introductions. For students new to the 18th century and Burney, Straub 1997 and Cooke 1998 are recommended for their useful critical and historical contextual material. Cecilia (Sabor and Doody 1988), Camilla (Bloom and Bloom 1972), and The Wanderer (Doody, et al. 1991), all with extensive notes, introductions, and appendices, are the only scholarly editions of Burney’s three later novels.

  • Bloom, Edward A., ed. Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    A revised edition of Bloom’s 1968 Oxford version that takes the first edition as its copy-text, but also incorporates some of the proof corrections Burney sent to the printer. Vivien Jones provides expanded explanatory notes and a new critical introduction.

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  • Bloom, Edward A., and Lillian D. Bloom, eds. Camilla, or, A Picture of Youth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.

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    The only scholarly edition, based on the first-edition text. Contains an appendix that reveals discrepancies between the first and second editions, as well as a critical introduction and explanatory notes.

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  • Cooke, Stewart J., ed. Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World. Norton Critical Editions. New York: W. W. Norton, 1998.

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    Based on the corrected third-edition text, with a short preface and explanatory footnotes. Also contains contextual material from conduct books and reviews of the novel, supplemented by wide-ranging literary criticism of Evelina from Burney’s contemporaries to 20th-century authors.

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  • Doody, Margaret Anne, ed. Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World. New York: Penguin, 1994.

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    Based on the third-edition text, with explanatory notes. Contains a critical introduction, which discusses the difficulties Burney faced as she wrote Evelina, along with major themes in the novel.

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  • Doody, Margaret Anne, Robert L. Mack, and Peter Sabor, eds. The Wanderer, or Female Difficulties. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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    The only scholarly edition, based on the first-edition text, supplemented by a critical introduction by Margaret Anne Doody, as well as annotations and several appendices.

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  • Sabor, Peter, and Margaret Anne Doody, eds. Cecilia, or, Memoirs of an Heiress. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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    The only scholarly edition, based on the first-edition text. Contains a critical introduction by Margaret Anne Doody, explanatory notes, and several contextualizing appendices, including discussions of 18th-century London, finance, and fashionable amusements.

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  • Straub, Kristina, ed. Evelina. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1997.

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    Part of the Bedford Cultural Editions series that historicizes literary texts. Contains very useful cultural contexts on the 18th-century young lady and the fashionable world and beyond.

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Plays

Burney’s eight plays—four comedies and four tragedies—were preserved in manuscript after her death; none were published in her lifetime. The first to be printed was a tragedy, Edwy and Elgiva (Benkowitz 1957), the only one of Burney’s plays that was performed on the London stage in her lifetime. It was followed by editions of two of the comedies: A Busy Day (Wallace 1984) and The Witlings (Delery 1995). An acting text of A Busy Day followed (Coveney 2000), as well as a student edition of The Witlings and The Woman-Hater (Sabor and Sill 2002). A complete, fully annotated edition (Sabor, et al. 1995) brought together the comedies and tragedies in two volumes.

  • Benkowitz, Miriam J., ed. Edwy and Elgiva. New York: Shoe String Press, 1957.

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    The first edition of any of Burney’s plays, a tragedy performed in 1795. This was the only one of her plays staged in her lifetime. There is no commentary, but a brief introduction considers Burney’s strengths and weaknesses as a dramatist, and an appendix reproduces suggestions for revisions made by Burney’s husband, Alexandre d’Arblay.

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  • Coveney, Alan, ed. A Busy Day. London: Oberon, 2000.

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    An acting text, based on Wallace 1984. This version, adapted for stage performance, was used for a 1993 production in Bristol, directed by Coveney. A very brief introduction claims that A Busy Day is “undoubtedly” Burney’s best play.

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  • Delery, Clayton J., ed. The Witlings. East Lansing, MI: Colleagues Press, 1995.

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    A critical edition of Burney’s comedy, with an extensive commentary and a substantial introduction contending that The Witlings, Burney’s first play, is also her finest and most engaging.

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  • Sabor, Peter, and Geoffrey Sill, eds. The Witlings and The Woman-Hater. Peterborough, Canada: Broadview, 2002.

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    An edition of two of Burney’s comedies, designed for students, with text and commentary based on Sabor, et al. 1995 and with a new introduction by Sabor and Sill. Several appendices provide material on Burney as dramatist, including her earliest theatrical writing: an epilogue to John Jackson’s Gerilda (1777).

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  • Sabor, Peter, Geoffrey M. Sill, and Stewart J. Cooke, eds. The Complete Plays of Frances Burney. 2 vols. London: Pickering, 1995.

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    An annotated edition of all of Burney’s plays (four comedies and four tragedies), with Elberta, a tragedy of which only fragments survive, pieced together by Stewart Cooke. Sabor provides a general and textual introduction, and headnotes to each of the plays.

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  • Wallace, Tara Ghoshal, ed. A Busy Day. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1984.

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    The first publication of a Burney comedy, which led to much subsequent interest in A Busy Day and eventually to the play’s performance, in 2000, on the London West End stage. Contains a fine introduction and commentary, as well as a useful appendix of plays seen or read by Burney.

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Correspondence and Journals

Burney’s copious journals and letters were first published shortly after her death in a seven-volume edition, edited by her niece, Charlotte Barrett, in 1842–1846. This edition was revised by Austin Dobson, who added annotations without expanding or altering the text (see Dobson 1904–1905). Modern editing of the journals begins with the Hemlow edition (Hemlow and Douglas 1972–1984) and continues with Troide, et al. 1988–2012 and Sabor, et al. 2011–. There have been many selected editions, including Hemlow 1986, Sabor and Troide 2001, Crump 2002, and Wood 1989.

  • Crump, Justine, ed. A Known Scribbler: Frances Burney on Literary Life. Peterborough, Canada: Broadview, 2002.

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    An annotated selection from Burney’s journals and letters, carefully chosen to represent her literary life. Excerpts from her pamphlet Brief Reflections Relative to the Emigrant French Clergy (1793) and Memoirs of Doctor Burney (1832) are also included. An appendix provides a useful selection from reviews of the first publication of the journals and letters in the 1840s.

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  • Dobson, Austin, ed. Diary and Letters of Madame d’Arblay (1778–1840). London: Macmillan, 1904–1905.

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    Until the completion of Burney’s Court Journals and Letters (see Sabor 2011– ), this remains the standard edition for Burney’s journals and letters from 1786 to 1791, as well as for those from 1784 to 1786, which are being separately published. The text, based on Charlotte Barrett’s edition (1842–1846), is unreliable, and the commentary is thin, but there are many useful illustrations.

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  • Hemlow, Joyce, ed. Fanny Burney: Selected Letters and Journals. Oxford: Clarendon, 1986.

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    This selection is taken from the twelve volumes of Burney’s later journals and letters, 1791 to 1839. There are no annotations, but brief editorial remarks provide links among the various sections.

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  • Hemlow, Joyce, and Althea Douglas, eds. The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney. 12 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1972–1984.

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    A magisterial edition of Burney’s journals and letters from 1791 to 1839, with separate introductions to each volume and much additional material in the form of appendices. This edition provided the model for the subsequent editions of Burney’s early journals and letters and her court journals and letters.

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  • Sabor, Peter, et al., eds. The Court Journals and Letters of Frances Burney. Oxford: Clarendon, 2011–.

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    When complete (six volumes are planned), it will provide fully annotated texts of the copious journals and letters that Burney wrote while serving as Keeper of the Robes to Queen Charlotte, 1786–1791. As of 2011, Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Peter Sabor and Stewart Cooke, respectively, had been published.

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  • Sabor, Peter, and Lars E. Troide, eds. Fanny Burney: Journals and Letters. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 2001.

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    A selection, based on the manuscripts, from the entire span of Burney’s journals and letters, from 1768 to 1839. The editors provide an introduction surveying the material and a brief commentary on each of the chosen items.

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  • Troide, Lars E., Stewart J. Cooke, and Betty Rizzo, eds. The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney. 5 vols. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1988–2012.

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    Provides an accurate and complete text of all of Burney’s early journals and letters, from 1768 to 1783, together with separate introductions and indexes to each volume. Additional material is provided in the form of appendices.

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  • Wood, Nigel, ed. Dr. Johnson and Fanny Burney: Excerpts from Fanny Burney’s Prose 1777–84. 2d ed. Bristol, UK: Bristol Classical Press, 1989.

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    A revision, with a new introduction and notes, of an edition first published in 1912, edited by Chauncey Brewster Tinker. It brings together many of the passages on Dr. Johnson in Burney’s journals and letters, from 1777 until his death in 1784. See also Lee 2006 (cited under Cecilia).

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Essay Collections and Journals

The first collection of essays on Burney, Bloom 1988, was devoted entirely to her first and most popular novel, Evelina, as was a special issue of the journal Eighteenth-Century Fiction (1991). Two more recent collections, Clark 2007 and Sabor 2007, survey the full range of Burney’s published works, as well as her journals and letters. The Burney Journal has appeared annually since 1998.

  • Bloom, Harold, ed. Fanny Burney’s Evelina: Modern Critical Interpretations. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.

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    Abridged reprints of essays from 1967 to 1981 by Ronald Paulson, Susan Staves, Patricia Meyer Spacks, Judith Lowder Newton, and Mary Poovey, with new essays by Jennifer Wagner, and Julia Epstein. Bloom’s introduction is surprisingly critical of the feminist methodology used in several of the essays.

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  • Burney Journal.

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    A journal published by the Burney Society, with thirty-eight essays in ten volumes through 2010–2011, almost all on Frances Burney. The recent issues, which are more substantial than the earlier ones, contain useful lists of current Burney scholarship.

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  • Clark, Lorna J., ed. A Celebration of Frances Burney. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2007.

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    A collection of eighteen papers, originally presented at a Westminster Abbey conference celebrating Burney’s 250th anniversary in 2002. There are three groups of three essays on the novels, dramas, and journals and letters, as well as other contributions on the Burney family, her life, and her times.

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  • Sabor, Peter, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Frances Burney. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521850347Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A collection of ten essays, with two on the novels, one each on the plays and journals, and the remainder on the Burney family, politics, gender, society, the literary marketplace, and the afterlife.

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  • Special Issue: Evelina. Eighteenth-Century Fiction 3.4 (1991): 277–371.

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    Contains an introduction by Julia Epstein and essays by Amy J. Pawl, Susan C. Greenfield, Gina Campbell, and David Oakleaf. A provocative afterword by Margaret Anne Doody urges critics to engage with Burney’s later novels, in addition to the more accessible Evelina.

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Biographies

Hemlow 1958 remains the most fully documented study of Burney’s long life. Several more recent biographies supplement Hemlow’s biography in important ways. Doody 1988 finds many fascinating links between Burney’s life and her literary works; Chisholm 1998 provides a lively, nuanced portrait of the author; Thaddeus 2000 gives the best account of Burney as a professional writer; and Davenport 2000 is the first modern biography to focus on a specific part of Burney’s life, namely her five years at the court of George III. Harman 2000 provides a broad overview, together with critical insights.

  • Chisholm, Kate. Fanny Burney: Her Life, 1752–1840. London: Chatto & Windus, 1998.

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    A richly illustrated biography, creating a sympathetic, evocative portrait of Burney and offering lively accounts of the composition and reception of her novels and plays.

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  • Davenport, Hester. Faithful Handmaid: Fanny Burney at the Court of King George III. Stroud, UK: Sutton, 2000.

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    Focuses on Burney’s five years at court as Keeper of the Robes to Queen Charlotte, 1786–1791, with some attention to the remainder of her long life. Elegantly written, with much original research.

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  • Doody, Margaret Anne. Frances Burney: The Life in the Works. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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    Contains extensive and sophisticated analyses of all of Burney’s published works, as well as her journals and letters. Uses surviving literary manuscripts to study Burney’s process of composition, depicting her as a conscious artist and emphasizing the range and power of her work.

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  • Harman, Claire. Fanny Burney: A Biography. London: HarperCollins, 2000.

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    An overview of Burney’s life, paying as much attention to the journals and letters as to her published works, with some useful critical insights.

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  • Hemlow, Joyce. The History of Fanny Burney. Oxford: Clarendon, 1958.

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    A pioneering work of scholarship, to which more recent biographies are much indebted. It brought to light the mass of surviving manuscripts and contains a valuable though dated summary of their locations. Also provides useful studies of Burney’s works in progress.

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  • Thaddeus, Janice Farrar. Frances Burney: A Literary Life. New York: St. Martin’s, 2000.

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    Studies Burney as a professional writer, paying close attention to her dealings with publishers, remunerations, and treatment by the reviewers. Also contains a discussion of Burney’s last and seldom-discussed work, Memoirs of Doctor Burney (1832).

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Bibliographical Studies

Grau 1981 surveys criticism of Burney up to 1980. More recent works are covered by Clark 2007 and by current issues of the Burney Journal (cited under Essay Collections and Journals). The two essays Rodriguez 2005 and Parisian 2009 and the monograph Parisian 2012 all provide a valuable primary bibliography and publishing history of Cecilia, but no comparable studies for Burney’s other novels exist. For the location of manuscripts of the Burney family’s correspondence, Hemlow, et al. 1971 remains invaluable, though dated. Hemlow 1968 provides a good introduction to the state in which these manuscripts survive.

  • Clark, Lorna. “The Afterlife and Further Reading.” In The Cambridge Companion to Frances Burney. Edited by Peter Sabor, 163–187. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    Surveys secondary material on Burney under three main headings: “Early Criticism,” “Criticism 1950–1990,” and “Criticism since 1990” (to about 2005). A valuable supplement to Grau 1981, and supplemented, in turn, by listings in current issues of The Burney Journal.

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  • Grau, Joseph A. Fanny Burney: An Annotated Bibliography. New York and London: Garland, 1981.

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    A comprehensive, though far from exhaustive, guide to editions, translations, and criticism of Burney up to 1980. Includes sections on dramatizations of Burney’s works, Burney apocrypha, contemporary reviews, and reviews of books on her life and writings.

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  • Hemlow, Joyce. “Letters and Journals of Fanny Burney: Establishing the Text.” In Editing Eighteenth-Century Texts: Papers Given at the Editorial Conference, University of Toronto, October 1967. Edited by D. I. B. Smith, 25–43. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968.

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    Describes the recovery, by Hemlow and her editorial team, of the original texts of Burney’s journals and letters, following extensive editorial work on the manuscripts by Burney herself, as well as by her niece Charlotte Barrett, other family members, and the publisher Henry Colburn.

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  • Hemlow, Joyce, with Jeanne M. Burgess and Althea Douglas. A Catalogue of the Burney Family Correspondence, 1749–1878. New York: New York Public Library, 1971.

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    Catalogues some ten thousand extant letters exchanged among members of the extended Burney family. A useful introduction describes the transmission of this huge body of correspondence and summarizes the locations of the manuscripts as of 1970.

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  • Parisian, Catherine M. “Intersections in Book History, Bibliography, and Literary Interpretation: Three Episodes in the Publication History of Frances Burney’s Cecilia.” In Producing the Eighteenth-Century Book: Writers and Publishers in England, 1650–1800.Edited by Laura L. Runge and Pat Rogers, 135–162. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2009.

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    The “episodes” studied here are the serial publication of Cecilia in editions of 1819 and c. 1825; its copyright, which nominally expired in 1810; and the printing of the first edition of 1782. The three accounts throw new light on 18th- and early-19th-century printing and publishing practices.

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  • Parisian, Catherine M. Frances Burney’s Cecilia: A Publishing History. Burlington, VT, and Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2012.

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    An illustrated monograph on the publishing history of Cecilia, surveying fifty-three editions and translations of Burney’s novel, from 1782 to the present, and exploring what they reveal about reader reception and print history.

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  • Rodriguez, Catherine M.[Parisian]. “The History of a Novel’s Travels Abroad: Foreign Editions of Frances Burney’s Cecilia.” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 99.4 (2005): 539–571.

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    Surveys the twenty-six editions of Cecilia published outside England during Burney’s lifetime. These editions include reprints in Dublin and Boston and translations into French, German, Russian, and Swedish.

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The Burney Family

Chisholm 2007 provides the best overview of the remarkable Burney family, whose members were distinguished in a variety of fields, including music, literature, the classics, art, and travel. Clark 2007 compares the novels of Frances and her half-sister, Sarah Harriet Burney, while Francus 2008 considers Dr. Charles Burney’s second wife, Elizabeth Allen Burney, and her difficult stepmother’s role. Kelly 1991 recounts Burney’s meeting with Alexandre d’Arblay at Juniper Hall, Surrey, which led to a swift courtship and marriage, while Kelly 2004 is concerned with both Frances and Susanna Burney’s admiration for the Italian castrato singer Gasparo Pacchierotti. Lonsdale 1965 throws light on Burney’s complex relationship with her famous father. Johnson 1926 provides a useful selection from publications and journals by several Burney family members; Olleson 2012 is the first separate edition of Susanna Burney’s journals and letters.

  • Chisholm, Kate. “The Burney Family.” In The Cambridge Companion to Frances Burney. Edited by Peter Sabor, 7–22. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    Focuses both on Burney and on her talented siblings: the journal-writer Susanna Burney, the explorer James Burney, the classicist Charles Burney Jr., and the novelist Sarah Harriet Burney, Frances’s half-sister. Also considers the parental roles of the music historian Dr. Charles Burney and his second wife, Elizabeth Allen Burney.

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  • Clark, Lorna J. “Frances and Sarah Harriet Burney: The Novels in the Family and the Family in the Novels.” In A Celebration of Frances Burney. Edited by Lorna J. Clark, 38–56. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2007.

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    A study comparing Burney’s four novels with the five published by Sarah Harriet Burney between 1796 and 1839. Notes that Sarah Harriet’s fiction was known to Jane Austen, and that some readers preferred it to that of her more famous sister.

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  • Francus, Marilyn J. “Stepmommy Dearest? The Burneys and the Construction of Stepmotherhood.” Eighteenth-Century Women 5 (2008): 133–169.

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    A detailed study of the relationship between Dr. Burney’s second wife, Elizabeth Allen Burney, and her stepchildren, making good use of published and unpublished correspondence. The siblings gave many reasons for disliking their stepmother, including her lack of interest in music. Notes that “some Burney scholars recognize Frances’s abhorrence of her stepmother . . . without questioning it.”

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  • Johnson, R. Brimley. Fanny Burney and the Burneys. London: Stanley Paul, 1926.

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    Includes passages from Burney’s journals written in France, as well as excerpts from her pamphlet on the emigrant French clergy and two of her novels, Camilla and The Wanderer. Also provides selections from Susanna Burney’s journals and from published works by Dr. Charles Burney, James Burney, Charles Burney, Sarah Harriet Burney, and Frances’s nieces Charlotte Barrett and Julia Maitland.

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  • Kelly, Linda. Juniper Hall: An English Refuge from the French Revolution. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991.

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    An illustrated account of the French émigrés who gathered at Juniper Hall, Surrey, in 1792–1793. Here, close to her sister Susanna’s home in Mickleham, Burney met both the celebrated author Madame de Staël, the mistress (unbeknown to Burney) of the Comte de Narbonne, and Alexandre d’Arblay, whom she married in July 1793.

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  • Kelly, Linda. Susanna, the Captain and the Castrato: Scenes from the Burney Salon, 1779–80. London: Starhaven, 2004.

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    Using her still unpublished journals and letters for the period, recounts Susanna Burney’s close friendship with the Italian castrato singer Gasparo Pacchierotti, whom she met in the autumn of 1779. Both Susanna and Frances Burney were entranced by Pacchierotti’s singing, which is commended in Burney’s Cecilia.

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  • Lonsdale, Roger H. Dr. Charles Burney: A Literary Biography. Oxford: Clarendon, 1965.

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    Still the standard biography of Burney’s father, the music historian Dr. Charles Burney. Contains the fullest account of Frances Burney’s final publication, her Memoirs of Doctor Burney (1832), which can, in Lonsdale’s view, “be taken as Fanny’s last novel.”

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  • Olleson, Philip, ed. The Journals and Letters of Susan Burney: Music and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century England. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012.

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    The first separate edition of the journals and letters of Susanna Burney, almost all of which are addressed to her elder sister Frances. They are especially valuable for the new light they throw on 18th-century music and on the Burney family. This selection contains an extensive introduction and detailed commentary by Olleson.

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Gender

Since the feminist reclamation of Burney in the 1980s, gender has been the most popular lens through which scholars have interpreted and understood her writings. Many critics see latent feminist motives at work in her journals and fictions. For Burney’s novels, Bilger 1998 connects comedy with feminism, Johnson 1995 traces changing conceptions of gender in the 1790s, and McMaster 1989 discusses the barriers to female self-expression. Greenfield 2002 uses Evelina to support a thesis on the legitimizing power of maternal resemblance in the 18th century. Rizzo 1994 looks at the unenviable role of humble companion in Burney’s life and works. Not all critics, however, align Burney and her writings with feminism: Brown 1986 rejects feminist readings of Burney’s novels, except for The Wanderer, and Jones 2007 posits that Burney’s opinions on gender relations are equivocal at best.

  • Bilger, Audrey. Laughing Feminism: Subversive Comedy in Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998.

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    Argues that women novelists used comedy as an outlet for early feminism, which, in the 18th century, was the belief that women were rational creatures. References to Burney’s journals and all of her novels are organized thematically by comic genre.

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  • Brown, Martha G. “Fanny Burney’s ‘Feminism’: Gender or Genre.” In Fetter’d or Free? British Women Novelists, 1670–1815. Edited by Mary Anne Schofield and Cecilia Macheski, 29–39. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1986.

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    Surveys the main feminist interpretations of Burney’s novels—including those of inheritance, female oppression, the quest to romance, and the liberated woman—and rejects each of these as a cohesive argument. Ultimately posits that The Wanderer does represent female difficulties, but suggests that retrospective feminist readings of Burney’s earlier novels should not be attempted.

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  • Greenfield, Susan C. “‘The Lovely Resemblance of Her Lovely Mother’: Evelina and Later Novels.” In Mothering Daughters: Novels and the Politics of Family Romance, Frances Burney to Jane Austen. By Susan C. Greenfield, 35–56. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2002.

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    A counterintuitive thesis, grounded in psychoanalytic theory, claiming that it is actually women who have the power to confirm and guarantee the legal rights of their daughters through maternal resemblance. In Evelina, the heroine’s physical similarity to her mother, Caroline Belmont, legitimizes her and secures her inheritance.

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  • Johnson, Claudia L. Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790s: Wollstonecraft, Radcliffe, Burney, Austen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

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    Traces the rise of male sentimentality in the 1790s and the subsequent overturning of traditional gender markers in concurrent fictions. The chapters on Burney discuss acute masculine feeling in Camilla and absent male power in The Wanderer.

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  • Jones, Vivien. “Burney and Gender.” In The Cambridge Companion to Frances Burney. Edited by Peter Sabor, 111–129. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521850347Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An overview of “ambivalent gender politics” within Burney’s novels. Discusses the anonymous and nongendered publication of Evelina, Burney’s association with the Bluestockings, her Brief Reflections Relative to the Emigrant French Clergy (1793), and her mediations on genre in Camilla, which are overshadowed by her emphasis on gender inequalities in The Wanderer.

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  • McMaster, Juliet. “The Silent Angel: Impediments to Female Expression in Frances Burney’s Novels.” Studies in the Novel 21.3 (1989): 235–252.

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    Contends that the difficulty of female expression is a major concern in all of Burney’s novels; both Burney, as an author, and her heroines feel shame in revealing emotions and desires. In The Wanderer, Juliet and Elinor take up opposing and balanced sides in the debate on women’s free expression.

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  • Rizzo, Betty. “Frances Burney and the Anatomy of Companionship.” In Companions without Vows: Relationships among Eighteenth-Century British Women. By Betty Rizzo, 83–111. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1994.

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    A reading of Burney’s “quiet heroism” in response to her overbearing female companions, especially her stepmother Elizabeth Allen Burney and her colleague Elizabeth Schwellenberg, interpreted as models for The Wanderer’s Mrs. Ireton. Surveys the trope of the humble companion in Burney’s novels, particularly in Cecilia and Camilla.

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Style, Genre, and Form

Studies of style, genre, and form provide some of the most traditional and innovative types of Burney criticism. Two monographs, White 1960 and Daugherty 1989, discuss Burney’s fictional techniques, such as plot, characterization, and style, within her four novels. Waddell 1980a and Waddell 1980b explore Burney’s contribution, both in words and phrases, to the English language. Tieken-Boon van Ostade 1991 describes the modern editorial process of recovering obscured language in Burney’s journals and letters. Recent studies emphasize Burney’s participation in different genres: Fung 2011 describes Burney’s contribution to the satiric tradition, and Starr 2011 discusses Burney’s indebtedness to the Ovidian genre.

  • Daugherty, Tracy Edgar. Narrative Techniques in the Novels of Fanny Burney. New York: Peter Lang, 1989.

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    Studies the formal characteristics (point of view, plot structure, tempo, and characterization) of Burney’s novels. Each of the novels is the subject of a chapter, and analysis is generous, though largely evaluative.

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  • Fung, Julian. “Frances Burney as Satirist.” Modern Language Review 106.4 (2011): 937–953.

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    Explores the use of satire in Burney’s novels: Evelina is read as a sophisticated societal critique; Cecilia satirizes class prejudice and, as with Burney’s harsher The Wanderer, ends without the possibility of social reform.

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  • Starr, G. Gabrielle. “Burney, Ovid, and the Value of the Beautiful.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 24.1 (2011): 77–104.

    DOI: 10.3138/ecf.24.1.77Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A nuanced exploration of Burney’s treatment of aesthetic experience and the interrelationship of pleasure with the beautiful female body. Finds parallels between Burney’s novels and Ovid’s writings—in particular, Evelina’s kinship with the Heroides and The Wanderer’s relation to Metamorphoses.

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  • Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Ingrid. “Stripping the Layers: Language and Content of Fanny Burney’s Early Journals.” English Studies 72.2 (1991): 146–159.

    DOI: 10.1080/00138389108598741Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes the process of recovering text from Burney’s early journals despite the deleterious changes of Burney’s first editor, Charlotte Barrett, who switched and suppressed events, the obliterations Burney made in her old age, and the self-censorship she obeyed in her youth. Also discusses Burney’s linguistic contributions.

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  • Waddell, J. N. “Additions to the O.E.D. from the Writings of Fanny Burney.” Notes and Queries 27.1 (1980a): 27–32.

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    An alphabetical list of Burney’s neologisms, including their first appearance in her journals or novels and whether, before 1980, they appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary.

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  • Waddell, J. N. “Fanny Burney’s Contribution to English Vocabulary.” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 81 (1980b): 260–263.

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    Discusses Burney’s contribution to the English language, both through her own invention and the first recording of words and expressions. Argues that Burney was influenced by American English and French, and compares her language with entries in the New English Dictionary.

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  • White, Eugene. Fanny Burney, Novelist: A Study in Technique—Evelina, Cecilia, Camilla, The Wanderer. Hamden, CT: Shoe String Press, 1960.

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    A dated and somewhat superficial analysis that nevertheless pays close, formal attention to Burney’s literary techniques and contends that these contain a high level of sophistication. Chapters are divided into fictional components: plot, characterization, manner of presentation, style, and tonal impression.

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Economic Issues

For Burney (as well as for other 18th-century female novelists), her split identity as a professional author and a “proper lady” was a source of tension. It is not surprising, then, that money, debt, and other economic themes are significant in her life and fictions. Gallagher 1994 and Schellenberg 2002 juxtapose Burney’s own financial issues as a female author with those of her fictional and dramatic heroines. Lynch 1998 and Thompson 1996 consider the negative consequences that Burney’s heroines suffer as they negotiate economic relationships. Copeland 1976 traces Burney’s increasingly pessimistic treatment of money in her novels. Burgess 1995 discusses how the financial undercuts the sentimental in Burney’s romance plots.

  • Burgess, Miranda J. “Courting Ruin: The Economic Romances of Frances Burney.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 28.2 (1995): 131–153.

    DOI: 10.2307/1345508Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Burney pioneered the “economic romance” genre in Cecilia, Camilla, and The Wanderer by employing irony to undermine “sentimental resolutions.” This strategy constitutes her “covert, even unconscious opposition to ideologies of romantic love.”

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  • Copeland, Edward. “Money in the Novels of Fanny Burney.” Studies in the Novel 8.1 (1976): 24–37.

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    An interpretation of the lavishly rewarded heroine and her relation to the rise of 18th-century women’s literature. While Evelina provides this sort of wish fulfillment, Burney’s three later novels present muted versions of this convention, since their heroines suffer severe romantic and financial hardships.

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  • Gallagher, Catherine. “Nobody’s Debt: Frances Burney’s Universal Obligation.” In Nobody’s Story: The Vanishing Acts of Women Writers in the Marketplace, 1670–1820. By Catherine Gallagher, 203–256. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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    Explores and links the themes of debt, gender, “Nobody,” and the literary marketplace within Burney’s life and first two novels, using a framework indebted to Marxist interpretations of commodities and exchange.

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  • Lynch, Deidre Shauna. “Agoraphobia and Interiority in Frances Burney’s Fiction.” In The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning. By Deidre Shauna Lynch, 164–206. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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    Posits that Burney’s fictions reflect the merging of women’s “self-definition” with “commodification” as they enter the marriage market. In Camilla, the heroine’s painful debts are entangled with her agonizing courtship with Edgar.

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  • Schellenberg, Betty A. “From Propensity to Profession: Female Authorship and the Early Career of Frances Burney.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 14.3–4 (2002): 345–370.

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    Discusses Burney’s self-construction as an author, which compelled her to distance herself from the female norms she presents and endorses in her novels. Evelina, The Witlings, and Cecilia are examined in this context.

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  • Thompson, James. “Burney and Debt.” In Models of Value: Eighteenth-Century Political Economy and the Novel. By James Thompson, 156–184. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.

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    Uses Burney’s heroines, especially Camilla, to support the thesis that spending money in the 18th century was gendered against the interests of women.

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Evelina

Composed in secret, Evelina, or, the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (1778) was published without the knowledge of most of Burney’s family and friends. Enthusiastically received by contemporary readers, it launched Burney’s literary career. Evelina has always been Burney’s most popular novel; it is the focus of a special issue of Eighteenth-Century Fiction and the essay collection Bloom 1988 (both cited under Essay Collections and Journals).

Women and Patriarchy

Most of the earlier modern criticism of Evelina is concerned with questions of gender, namely the behavior of the heroine within the context of 18th-century patriarchal norms. Several interpretations search for female empowerment within the novel, whether in the letter form (Tucker 1993), in the act of sympathetic reading (Campbell 1990), or in the “gaze” (Yeazell 1991). Zomchick 1995 describes how Burney’s use of satire created a new female “bourgeois subject.” Casler 2003 scrutinizes Burney’s treatment of old women.

  • Campbell, Gina. “How to Read Like a Gentleman: Burney’s Instructions to Her Critics in Evelina.” English Literary History 57.3 (1990): 557–583.

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    Focuses on scenes of misreading and misinterpretation of the heroine by Lord Orville, Mr. Villars, and Sir Clement Willoughby. Lord Orville’s method of reading is the only approach that “grants women authorial subjectivity and allows women’s writing, including Evelina, a respectful reception.”

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  • Casler, Jeanine. “Rakes and Races: Art’s Imitation of Life in Frances Burney’s Evelina.” The Eighteenth-Century Novel 3 (2003): 157–169.

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    Using the old women’s race as a starting point, argues that Burney is keenly aware of the condition of life for the elderly in her depictions of Madame Duval and Mrs. Selwyn.

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  • Tucker, Irene. “Writing Home: Evelina, the Epistolary Novel, and the Paradox of Property.” English Literary History 60.2 (1993): 419–439.

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    Discusses the epistolary form of Evelina within the context of Pope v. Curll, a legal case that granted letter copyright to the writer rather than the recipient, and interprets paradoxes inherent in letter-writing relationships as corresponding to inconsistencies in property and identity in the novel and Burney’s life.

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  • Yeazell, Ruth Bernard. “Evelina’s Self-Effacing.” In Fictions of Modesty: Women and Courtship in the English Novel. By Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 122–142. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.

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    Focuses on the reciprocal relationship of the “gaze” within Evelina as a way of circumventing conduct-book prohibitions against women speaking their desire. Throughout the novel, Evelina is fearful about being exposed to the glances of others, although, especially in her interactions with Lord Orville, she has the desire to look herself.

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  • Zomchick, John. “Satire and the Bourgeois Subject in Frances Burney’s Evelina.” In Cutting Edges: Postmodern Critical Essays on Eighteenth-Century Satire. Edited by James Gill, 347–366. Tennessee Studies in Literature 37. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995.

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    A complex interpretation of the tension between satire and romance in Evelina; satire is seen to negate “sexual and social relations so that the novel’s romance register can create a utopian ideal.”

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New Theoretical Contexts

Since the late 1990s, many critics have sought to divorce Evelina from traditionally feminist readings. The monkey scene is a popular locus of inquiry, leading Brown 2009 and Greenfield 2009 to raise questions about identity and human nature in the novel. Hamilton 2007 and Koehler 2002 provide behavioral critiques, respectively, of male politeness and of ideological and moral patterns. Allen 1998 discusses Evelina’s malleable genre, Pino 2010 traces aesthetics within Evelina, and Thompson 1998 uses public sphere theory in an interpretation of the novel. Dixsaut 2013 is a French text that synthesizes recent work on the novel.

  • Allen, Emily. “Staging Identity: Frances Burney’s Allegory of Genre.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 31.4 (1998): 433–451.

    DOI: 10.1353/ecs.1998.0026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A reading of genre that juxtaposes Evelina with theatrical strategies. The novel and the heroine are “aligned with an appropriate inwardness,” and Evelina’s self-consciousness about her origins is paired with the novel’s auto-commentary on the rise of the genre.

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  • Brown, Laura. “Shock Effect: Evelina’s Monkey and the Marriage Plot.” The Eighteenth-Century Novel 6–7 (2009): 379–407.

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    A close reading of the monkey scene, interpreting the monkey as a symbol of an “anti-female tradition of dramatic social satire.” The monkey signifies hypersexuality and problematic marital relations, which correspond, in Evelina, to Lovel’s anxiety about being human, and to the marriage plot involving Orville and Evelina.

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  • Dixsaut, Jean Frances Burney, Evelina: or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World. Neuilly: Atlande, 2013.

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    An invaluable French-language guide to Evelina, with no counterpart in English. It provides extensive analyses of the novel’s style and thematic concerns together with material useful for students, such as a genealogical tree, indicating the complex family relationships among the characters, and a table listing the dates, senders, and recipients of the letters.

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  • Greenfield, Susan C. “Monkeying Around in Evelina: Identity and Resemblance Again.” The Eighteenth-Century Novel 6–7 (2009): 409–428.

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    The monkey scene is linked to a larger discussion of identity and the vexed status of a human being, as Evelina is read as her mother’s twin and Lovel is read as the monkey’s double.

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  • Hamilton, Patricia L. “Monkey Business: Lord Orville and the Limits of Politeness in Frances Burney’s Evelina.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 19.4 (2007): 415–440.

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    Contextualizes Lord Orville’s civility amid 18th-century conceptions of politeness. The two scenes discussed are the old women’s race and the monkey incident; although Lord Orville saves Lovel from the monkey, his passivity during the old women’s race reveals the ineffectuality of male politeness.

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  • Koehler, Martha J. “‘Faultless Monsters’ and Monstrous Egos: The Disruption of Model Selves in Frances Burney’s Evelina.” Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 43.1 (2002): 19–41.

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    Explores Burney’s figures of the “paragon” and the “ego,” tracing how Evelina both questions and espouses contradictory moral and ideological patterns, as the readers and the characters participate in a didactic relationship.

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  • Pino, Melissa. “Burney’s Evelina and Aesthetics in Action.” Modern Philology 108.2 (2010): 263–303.

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    A lively discussion of aesthetics in Evelina, focusing on Burney’s intentionally satirical attempts “to apply abstract formulas of beauty to bodies that are living, various, and very much present.”

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  • Thompson, Helen. “Evelina’s Two Publics.” Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 39.2 (1998): 147–167.

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    Using Habermas as a theoretical basis, argues that Evelina must “negotiate between the discrepant publics summoned by her literary and her spectacular selves.”

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Cecilia

Cecilia, or, Memoirs of an Heiress (1782) reworks and expands Evelina’s heiress-orphan plot, adding a twist: the eponymous heroine’s husband must take her last name in order to inherit her fortune. Cecilia is a departure from the epistolary form of Evelina, with a philosophical third-person narrator and an elegantly balanced style. Most critical approaches to the novel center on gender, autonomy, and debt. Castle 1986 is one of the earliest and still one of the most influential interpretations of the novel, focusing almost entirely on the short but important masquerade scene. Charity and debt are also popular topics: Keohane 2001 and Klekar 2005 offer different readings of Cecilia’s approach to charity, and Campbell 1991 discusses credit and spending within the novel. Bond 2003 and Lee 2006 discuss mentoring relationships in the novel and in Burney’s life, and Woodworth 2009 links the novel’s theme of independence with the American Revolution.

  • Bond, Erik. “Farewell, Mr. Villars: Cecilia and Frances Burney’s ‘Inward Monitor.’” The Eighteenth-Century Novel 3 (2003): 171–193.

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    Reads Cecilia as a revision of the epistolary form of Evelina, in which the former’s omniscient narrator is a type of “inward monitor” that critiques and replaces Evelina’s male monitor, Mr. Villars, as the heroines negotiate their paths through London society.

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  • Campbell, D. Grant. “Fashionable Suicide: Conspicuous Consumption and the Collapse of Credit in Frances Burney’s Cecilia.” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 20 (1991): 131–145.

    DOI: 10.1353/sec.2010.0193Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Within the context of the concurrent reliance on credit, reads Mr. Harrel as a reflection of societal consumerism. He is counterbalanced by Cecilia, who serves as a model of “financial prudence and responsibility.”

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  • Castle, Terry. “Masquerade and Utopia I: Burney’s Cecilia.” In Masquerade and Civilization: The Carnivalesque in Eighteenth-Century English Culture and Fiction. By Terry Castle, 253–289. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1986.

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    The masquerade scene in Cecilia, a site for female liberty that threatens patriarchal norms, enables the expression of latent feelings, especially the budding romance between Delvile and Cecilia. The freedoms that the masquerade promises, along with Cecilia’s independence, must be suppressed later in the novel.

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  • Keohane, Catherine. “‘Too Neat for a Beggar’: Charity and Debt in Burney’s Cecilia.” Studies in the Novel 33.4 (2001): 379–401.

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    Shows how Cecilia willingly takes on debt to participate in charity from an ingrained sense of social responsibility. Despite her eventual loss of fortune, Cecilia’s charitable worldview is ultimately confirmed by the inheritance she receives from Delvile’s aunt.

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  • Klekar, Cynthia. “‘Her Gift Was Compelled’: Gender and the Failure of the ‘Gift’ in Cecilia.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 18.1 (2005): 107–126.

    DOI: 10.1353/ecf.2006.0008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Interprets Cecilia’s charitable acts as “instances of coercion,” since her wealth makes her indebted not only to the poor, but also to the patriarchal structures that have elevated her to privilege and that Cecilia can never repay.

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  • Lee, Anthony W. “Allegories of Mentoring: Johnson and Frances Burney’s Cecilia.” The Eighteenth-Century Novel 5 (2006): 249–276.

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    Discusses two layers of the mentoring relationship in Cecilia: as Burney’s heroine struggles against but then submits to her three guardians, Burney herself initially resists and later appropriates the prose style of her literary mentor Samuel Johnson. See also Wood 1989 (cited under Correspondence and Journals).

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  • Woodworth, Megan. “‘If a Man Dared Act for Himself’: Family Romance and Independence in Frances Burney’s Cecilia.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 22.2 (2009): 355–370.

    DOI: 10.3138/ecf.22.2.355Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines Cecilia’s fruitless struggle for autonomy against the backdrop of the American Revolution and considers the possibility of independence for the male characters in the novel.

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Camilla

Camilla, or, A Picture of Youth, published in 1796 and substantially revised in 1802, is Burney’s third novel and also her longest and most expansive. Spanning several years, it culminates in the romantic entanglements and marriages of the youthful members of the Tyrold family, in particular those of the eponymous heroine. Bloom 1979, the earliest article listed, focuses on the discrepancies between the two editions of the text, leading the way for later works on material aspects of the novel, such as Justice 2002 and Pink 2006, which discuss its cultural production, and Havens 2012, which looks at early manuscript drafts. Most other critical interpretations focus on the romance plot. Gruner 1994 discusses how Camilla evinces shifting kinship relationships; Henderson 1997 exposes the risk inherent in Camilla and Edgar’s relationship; and Austin 2000 and Binhammer 2011 consider the importance of economics to the plot and how financial concerns supersede those of romance.

  • Austin, Sara K. “‘All Wove into One’: Camilla, the Prose Epic, and Family Values.” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 29.1 (2000): 273–298.

    DOI: 10.1353/sec.2010.0165Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses the means by which the novel resists commodification: Burney’s avoidance of the term “novel,” her privileging of family values (the Tyrolds) over market values (Mrs. Mittin and Mr. Dubster), and Camilla’s disinterested passion for Edgar and corresponding aversion to marriage-market transactions.

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  • Binhammer, Katherine. “The Economics of Plot in Burney’s Camilla.” Studies in the Novel 43.1 (2011): 1–20.

    DOI: 10.1353/sdn.2011.0015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Sees the economic, not the romantic, as the driving force of Camilla. Hence, Camilla’s rejection of financial concerns in order to act virtuously and selflessly leads to her excessive debts and misery.

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  • Bloom, Lillian D. “Fanny Burney’s Camilla: The Author as Editor.” Bulletin of Research in the Humanities 82 (1979): 367–393.

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    The first article to discuss Burney’s “radically revised” second edition of Camilla (1802), categorizing and largely defending Burney’s cuts to the first edition.

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  • Gruner, Elizabeth Rose. “The Bullfinch and the Brother: Marriage and Family in Frances Burney’s Camilla.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 93.1 (1994): 18–34.

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    Argues that romantic pairings in Camilla evince a shift from the mercenary marriage to the virtuous domestic partnership, focusing on Camilla’s relationship with her two “brothers,” the controlling Lionel and the mentor/lover Edgar.

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  • Havens, Hilary. “Revising the ‘prose Epic’: Frances Burney’s Camilla.” The Age of Johnson 22.1 (2012): 299–320.

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    Examines Burney’s early drafts of Camilla and how her “obsessive” editorial work weakened her desired “epic” aims. This article brings to light little-discussed and hitherto unpublished archival material on Camilla.

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  • Henderson, Andrea. “Commerce and Masochistic Desire in the 1790s: Frances Burney’s Camilla.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 31.1 (1997): 69–86.

    DOI: 10.1353/ecs.1997.0052Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Suggests that Camilla contains two paradigms of romance based on gambling—dangerous, focused desire—and shopping—fickle, risk-free desire. The central conflict of the novel arises from Edgar and Camilla’s vacillation between the two models; both the hero and heroine are eventually unable to resist the masochistic desire generated by risk.

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  • Justice, George. “‘Labour with Independence’: Frances Burney’s Camilla and Modern Literary Authorship.” In The Manufacturers of Literature: Writing and the Literary Marketplace in Eighteenth-Century England. By George Justice, 195–233. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2002.

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    A detailed study of Camilla’s publication process. Burney is seen as a “disinterested author” because she can reconcile her aesthetic ideology with the demands of the marketplace.

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  • Pink, Emma E. “Frances Burney’s Camilla: ‘To Print My Grand Work . . . by Subscription.’” Eighteenth-Century Studies 40.1 (2006): 51–68.

    DOI: 10.1353/ecs.2006.0046Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A reading of Burney’s decision to publish Camilla by subscription, interpreting her sensitivity to the material aspects of cultural production and her increasing ownership of her work through the lens of Pierre Bourdieu.

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The Wanderer

The Wanderer, or, Female Difficulties (1814), Burney’s final novel, is set against the backdrop of the Reign of Terror in Robespierre’s France. The plot is shrouded in mystery, and before the heroine can reveal her identity and receive her inheritance, she must negotiate her way through the world, friendless and destitute. The Wanderer was savaged by critics upon its initial publication, but since the 1980s it has been recuperated by scholars, who focus, more than with any of Burney’s other novels, on questions of women’s rights and agency. Prominent feminist interpretations of The Wanderer include Austin 1996 and Craft-Fairchild 1993, while Perkins 1996 and Haggerty 2010 read the novel as a critique of existing social structures. Henderson 2002 and Park 2008 base their interpretations on the mystery inherent in the plot and Juliet’s identity. Salih 1999 discusses race and alterity; Crump 1998 explores the theme of madness; and Gemmeke 2004 reads the novel through various contexts, including those of female rights, education, labor, aesthetics, contemporary literature, and Burney’s own life.

  • Austin, Andrea. “Between Women: Frances Burney’s The Wanderer.” English Studies in Canada 22.3 (1996): 253–266.

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    Centers on the discrepancies between Juliet and Elinor and reads their respective “feminine” and “masculine” approaches as contrasting versions of a feminist strategy.

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  • Craft-Fairchild, Catherine. “Feminine Excess: Frances Burney’s The Wanderer.” In Masquerade and Gender: Disguise and Female Identity in Eighteenth-Century Fictions by Women. By Catherine Craft-Fairchild, 123–162. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993.

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    A post-structuralist feminist reading that examines the “excesses” within The Wanderer, which are mostly tied to Elinor and used to subvert hegemonic patriarchal norms.

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  • Crump, Justine. “‘Turning the World Upside Down’: Madness, Moral Management, and Frances Burney’s The Wanderer.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 10.3 (1998): 325–340.

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    Considers Elinor’s behavior in the context of treatments for madness in the 18th century. For Elinor, discourse is a therapeutic solution, through which her hysterics are converted into revolutionary political and feminist ideologies, highlighted in her debates with Harleigh.

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  • Gemmeke, Mascha. Frances Burney and the Female Bildungsroman: An Interpretation of The Wanderer: or, Female Difficulties. Literatur/Münster Monographs on English Literature 28. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2004.

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    A monograph that interprets The Wanderer within various contexts, including those of female rights, education, labor, aesthetics, contemporary literature, and Burney’s own life. At its core, focuses on the relationship between Juliet and her “repressed alter ego,” Elinor.

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  • Haggerty, George E. “Male Privilege in Frances Burney’s The Wanderer.” In Women Constructing Men: Female Novelists and Their Male Characters, 1750–2000. Edited by Sarah S. G. Frantz and Katharina Rennhak, 31–43. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2010.

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    Reads Juliet as the victim of male persecution; her strict propriety protects her and leads to her marriage, her only socially acceptable option.

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  • Henderson, Andrea. “Burney’s The Wanderer and Early Nineteenth-Century Commodity Fetishism.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 57.1 (2002): 1–30.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncl.2002.57.1.1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Applies Marx’s theories of commodity fetishism to Burney’s novel, arguing that the mysterious Juliet’s function as a commodity of limitless potential and Giles Arbe’s egalitarian model of exchange evoke the new early-19th-century commodity fetishism.

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  • Park, Suzie Asha. “‘All Agog to Find Her Out’: Compulsory Narration in The Wanderer.” In Recognizing the Romantic Novel: New Histories of British Fiction, 1780–1830. Edited by Jillian Heydt-Stevenson and Charlotte Sussman, 126–154. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2008.

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    Discusses Burney’s decision to conceal Juliet’s interiority from other characters in the novel, especially Harleigh and Elinor, as well as from her readers, an authorial decision that runs counter to Romantic representations of psychological depth.

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  • Perkins, Pam. “Private Men and Public Women: Social Criticism in Fanny Burney’s The Wanderer.” Essays in Literature 23.1 (1996): 69–83.

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    Argues that Burney’s novel espouses neither a radical nor a conservative view in its depiction of Juliet’s “female difficulties” as she operates within the public and economic spheres.

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  • Salih, Sara. “‘Her Blacks, Her Whites and Her Double Face!’: Altering Alterity in The Wanderer.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 11.3 (1999): 301–315.

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    An influential article that focuses on Burney’s removal of “otherness” from the text, specifically Juliet’s transition from black foreigner to white native English subject, so that the novel can uphold existing social and racial structures.

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Plays

Burney’s plays were neglected for over a hundred years after her death in 1840, until Hemlow 1950 first drew attention to the eight surviving manuscripts. Critical studies followed in the wake of the collected edition of 1995. Darby 1997 remains the only monograph, but there have been several incisive articles and essays. Donkin 1995, Justice 2002, and Skinner 2011 consider, from different perspectives, why Burney’s plays remained largely unknown in her lifetime. Sherman 1996 focuses on Burney’s first comedy, The Witlings, and Gilbert 2006 discusses her first tragedy, Edwy and Elgiva. Wallace 2007 provides a judicious survey.

  • Darby, Barbara. Frances Burney, Dramatist: Gender, Performance, and the Late-Eighteenth-Century Stage. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1997.

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    The only monograph to date on Burney as dramatist. In addition to providing close readings of each of her eight plays, it examines them in the context of the writings of other late-18th-century female dramatists, employing performance and feminist theory.

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  • Donkin, Ellen. “Frances Burney and the Protection Racket.” In Getting into the Act: Women Playwrights in London, 1776–1829. By Ellen Donkin, 132–158. London and New York: Routledge, 1995.

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    Examines Burney’s “sustained and serious effort to become a playwright,” paying particular attention to The Witlings, Edwy and Elgiva, and Love and Fashion. Considers both the forces that blocked Burney’s plays from being successfully performed and her responses to these obstacles.

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  • Gilbert, Elizabeth Deirdre. “Desires and History: Historical Representation in Frances Burney’s Edwy and Elgiva and Joanna Baillie’s Ethwald.” European Romantic Review 17.3 (2006): 327–334.

    DOI: 10.1080/10509580600816777Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A comparison between Edwy and Elgiva, the first of Burney’s tragic plays, and Joanna Baillie’s Ethwald (1800), both of which represent taboo subjects under the veil of historical drama—“a tale of incest for Burney and of homoeroticism for Baillie.”

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  • Hemlow, Joyce. “Fanny Burney: Playwright.” University of Toronto Quarterly 19 (1950): 170–189.

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    The first account of Burney’s plays, with particular attention paid to her methods of composition. Unreliable on Elberta, Burney’s unfinished tragedy, but otherwise a still valuable survey. Contends that while The Woman-Hater would have succeeded best on stage in Burney’s lifetime, A Busy Day is the play most likely to appeal to modern audiences.

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  • Justice, George L. “Suppression and Censorship in Late Manuscript Culture: Frances Burney’s Unperformed The Witlings.” In Women’s Writing and the Circulation of Ideas: Manuscript Publication in England, 1550–1800. Edited by George L. Justice and Nathan Tinker, 201–222. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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    Considers Burney’s first comedy, The Witlings, in the context of 18th-century scribal publication, a subject with which the play itself is concerned. Analyzes the part Dr. Burney and Samuel Crisp played in the comedy’s suppression. See also Skinner 2011.

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  • Sherman, Sandra. “‘Does Your Ladyship Mean an Extempore?’ Wit, Leisure, and the Mode of Production in Frances Burney’s The Witlings.” Centennial Review 40.2 (1996): 401–428.

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    A close reading of Burney’s first play, drawing on Marxist theory. The Witlings “elaborates an encounter between emergent industrial discourse in which time, production, and money are imbricated, and a leisure class which appropriates this discourse but produces nothing.”

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  • Skinner, Gillian. “‘My Muse Loves a Little Variety’: Writing Drama and the Creative Life of Frances Burney.” Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 34.2 (2011): 197–208.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1754-0208.2011.00376.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses Burney’s journals and letters to explain the suppression of her first comedy, The Witlings (1779), her tragedy Edwy and Elgiva after its single performance on stage in 1795, and her second comedy, Love and Fashion, after it was accepted for production at Covent Garden in 1799. See also Justice 2002.

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  • Wallace, Tara Ghoshal. “Burney as Dramatist.” In The Cambridge Companion to Frances Burney. Edited by Peter Sabor, 55–73. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521850347Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Evaluates Burney’s achievement as a dramatist, paying attention to all of her plays. Contends that her four tragedies have been underestimated and “reward the kind of scrupulous readings they have begun to accrue.”

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Journals and Letters

Burney’s surviving journals extend from 1768, when she was fifteen, until 1839, a year before her death. A fine overview of this mass of material is provided by Wiltshire 2007, complementing an earlier study (Wiltshire 1993), which examines Burney’s famous account of her mastectomy. Lang-Peralta 1997 studies the journals and letters in the context of life-writing. Doody 1997 explores the depiction in Burney’s journal accounts of Germaine de Staël; O’Quinn 2005 is concerned with Burney’s reporting of the Warren Hastings trial in her court journals, while Moss 2006 considers Burney’s concern with eating, and refusing to eat. Clark 2010 and Clark 2012 are devoted to the fictional qualities of the court journals.

  • Clark, Lorna. “Epistolarity in Frances Burney.” The Age of Johnson 20 (2010): 193–222.

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    Examines Burney’s court journals in the light of epistolary theory, focusing on what Clark terms a “would-be courtship journal based on Burney’s interaction with a fellow courtier,” the Honorable Stephen Digby. Burney’s depiction of the failed courtship reads like an epistolary novel.

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  • Clark, Lorna J. “Dating the Undated: Layers of Narrative in Frances Burney’s Court Journals.” Lifewriting Annual 3 (2012): 121–142.

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    A detailed study of the composition of Burney’s court journals, 1786–1791, demonstrating that large parts were written long after the events being recorded. The journals constitute a powerful fiction, in which Burney was “rewriting the history of the past in a way that answered her own inner needs.”

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  • Doody, Margaret Anne. “Missing Les Muses: Madame de Staël and Frances Burney.” Colloquium Helveticum 25 (1997): 81–117.

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    An analysis of Burney’s vexed friendship with Germaine de Staël, which began in January 1793, when de Staël was living in Mickleham, Surrey, close to Burney’s sister Susanna. Although Burney soon broke off the relationship at the behest of her father, she remained fascinated by de Staël; both Camilla and The Wanderer are indebted to de Staël’s novels.

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  • Lang-Peralta, Linda. “‘Clandestine Delight’: Frances Burney’s Life-Writing.” In Women’s Life-Writing: Finding Voice, Building Community. Edited by Linda S. Coleman, 23–41. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1997.

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    A survey of Burney’s journals and letters as “life-writing,” from the earliest surviving journals of 1768 to the “Windsoriana” that describe her visit to court in 1796. Pays particular attention to Burney’s vexed relationship with Madame de Staël.

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  • Moss, Sarah. “Spilling the Beans: Food and Authorship in Frances Burney’s Early Journals.” Women’s Writing 13.3 (2006): 416–431.

    DOI: 10.1080/09699080600853088Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Focuses on Burney’s journal account of a house party hosted by Hester Thrale at Streatham Park in August 1778, at which she and Dr. Johnson were among the guests. Equates Burney’s frequent refusal of food with her unwillingness to be seen as a producer of literary texts.

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  • O’Quinn, Daniel. “Molière’s Old Woman: Judging and Being Judged with Frances Burney.” In Staging Governance: Theatrical Imperialism in London, 1770–1800. By Daniel O’Quinn, 222–258. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.

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    A subtle and perceptive analysis of Burney’s depiction of the impeachment proceedings against Warren Hastings at Westminster Hall, concentrating on the theatrical qualities of the trial. Notes that Burney “pays close attention to her own role in this particular political theatre.”

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  • Wiltshire, John. “Fanny Burney’s Face, Madame d’Arblay’s Veil.” In Literature and Medicine during the Eighteenth Century. Edited by Marie Mulvey Roberts and Roy Porter, 245–265. London: Routledge, 1993.

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    Compares some of Burney’s vivid accounts of her mental and physical distresses during her years at court, 1786–1791, with the famous journal description of her unanaesthetized mastectomy while in Paris in 1811.

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  • Wiltshire, John. “Journals and Letters.” In The Cambridge Companion to Frances Burney. Edited by Peter Sabor, 75–92. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521850347Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An informative and perceptive overview of Burney’s journal- and letter-writing, paying particular attention to her years at court, 1786–1791, and to her life in France, from 1800 to 1815. Includes a discussion of the mastectomy account that complements Wiltshire 1993.

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LAST MODIFIED: 09/29/2014

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199846719-0008

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