Contents Index

Frances Burney d'Arblay

Frances (or Fanny) Burney d'Arblay, 1752-1840, English novelist.

Frances Burney was the daughter of the musician and musicologist Charles Burney, whose familiarity with many of the most important figures in late eighteenth-century English intellectual life -- Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, David Garrick, Richard Sheridan, Hester Thrale -- introduced Frances into the highest literary circles.

Her first published work was Evelina; or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World (1778), a tremendously successful epistolary novel. It was followed by the more ambitious Cecilia; or, Memoirs of an Heiress (1782).

Both novels brought her considerable celebrity, and in 1786 she was appointed second keeper of the robes to the royal family -- a position in which she was unhappy, and from which she retired after five years. She then married a poor Frenchman, a former adjutant general to Lafayette, named Alexandre d'Arblay, with whom she moved to France in 1802 with their son. The Napoleonic Wars made travel difficult, so they remained in France until Waterloo in 1815. After d'Arblay's death in 1818, Frances moved to London, where she remained until her own death in 1832.

Besides her four novels (Evelina, Cecilia, Camilla [1796], and The Wanderer [1814]), Burney helped to publish her father's Memoirs (1832), and left behind a very extensive collection of letters and journals, which provide invaluable insight into late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century literary and intellectual life.