A Celebration of Frances Burney by Lorna J. Clark

By Lorna J. Clark

At the 200 and 50th anniversary of the beginning of the author Frances Burney (1752-1840), a window to her reminiscence used to be positioned within the arched recess of stained glass that graces Poets nook. Novelist, playwright and diarist, Frances Burney is likely one of the few ladies accorded such an honour. She joins the likes of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot who may in many ways be visible as her literary heirs. Burney s trip to attractiveness at the degree of the realm has been a protracted one, topped eventually with triumph. The carrier marked the mid-point of a two-day convention during which numerous elements of Burney s existence and success have been canvassed. Her journals and letters, her novels and performs (both comedies and tragedies), her lifestyles, kin and context have been all given severe scholarly therapy. This quantity contains the papers provided that day, which conceal the numerous elements of a notable profession and signify the huge spectrum of scholarly ways to the complete opus of Frances Burney. It indicates how a long way Burney has come from being brushed aside as a minor precursor to Jane Austen to being well-known in her personal correct as a strong, complicated and influential author, whose works had enormous effect on her personal and next generations.

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Thus, Doody argues, “the bonfire both censors the products of sin and momentarily makes a blazing display of them” (Doody, 36). Despite this dramatic attempt to eliminate her worrisome “propensity,” it did not remain extinguished for long. By March 1768, three months before her sixteenth birthday, she was writing again. This time she focused her writing energies on a journal, a journal she was to keep in one form or another until her death in 1840. All of her manuscripts, including the journals, were left to her niece and literary executrix, Mrs.

Like her biography, they received high critical praise from, among others, C. P. Snow and Malcolm Muggeridge. The concluding volumes appeared in 1984, at which time Hemlow, now aged 78, finally retired from her Burney labours. She went home to Nova Scotia where she spent her remaining years visiting with old friends and researching and writing articles on her Nova Scotian pioneer ancestors. But she still kept up her lively interest in the world of Burney scholarship. If I have so far given the impression that Joyce was a one-person Burney industry, I want to correct that notion now.

2 Indeed, it is quite natural that biographers should make extensive use of such autobiographical writings. Reading the early journals in search of evidence of the budding novelist (and dramatist, although interest in Burney as a dramatist is a more recent development) is no less natural. ”5 Although he acknowledges the work’s interest for social historians, he makes clear that he values it chiefly as a source for A Celebration of Frances Burney 21 biography and, more importantly, for what might be called literary embryology: While the Early Diary sheds light on eighteenth-century English society as observed by a perceptive, bright young girl from her vantage point in an unusual family with numerous literary, musical, scholarly, and theatrical friends, the main focus of the Early Diary is on Fanny herself.

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