Fanny Burney 1752–1840
The daughter of Dr Charles Burney, the historian of music and friend of Johnson, Fanny Burney spent much of her early life mixing with the learned and fashionable. Her epistolary novel Evelina (1778) won great fame, and was followed by Cecilia, Camilla and The Wanderer. Her main theme is the exposure of the young heroine to a complex world, in a manner which influenced her admirer, Jane Austen. From 1786 she was Second Keeper of the Robes to Queen Charlotte, acting as deputy to Mrs Schwellenberg, whose behaviour often seemed harsh and tyrannical. In 1793 Fanny Burney married General d’Arblay, a refugee from the French Revolution, and with him was interned by Napoleon in the following decade. Her early diaries describe both the literary world and the milieu of the Royal Family during a period when George III was increasingly suffering from the bouts of mental instability which dogged his later life.
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