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Learned Insane

Simon Schaffer: The Lunar Men, 17 April 2003

The Lunar Men: The Friends who Made the Future 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 588 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 571 19647 0
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... weak-minded, so sent her off to boarding school. Eventually, she found work as housekeeper to the Burney family, switching from the vicious exercises of the Lunar world to serving the urbanities of Fanny Burney and Samuel Johnson. Sometimes, Lunar women got their own back: one subverted Withering’s strenuous fungus ...

Leaf, Button, Dog

Susan Eilenberg: The Sins of Hester Thrale, 1 November 2001

According to Queeney 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Little, Brown, 242 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 0 316 85867 6
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... to bewilder. It is easy enough to close the drawer. We have read Boswell’s anecdotes and Fanny Burney’s and Mrs Thrale’s. We know that, half-blind, hot-tempered, scrofulf-scarred and melancholic, Johnson laughed like a rhinoceros and talked like a whale, that he ‘had sometimes fits of reading very violent’, ‘like a Turk’, that ...

In praise of Brigid Brophy

John Bayley, 5 March 1987

Baroque ’n’ Roll 
by Brigid Brophy.
Hamish Hamilton, 172 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 241 12037 3
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... some of which appeared in the London Review of Books, include a brilliant piece on Murasaki and Fanny Burney, and an analysis of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and its conclusion by Leon Garfield, coming up with the intriguing suggestion that Dickens – who can tell what the unconscious of that great novelist may have got up to? – made John Jasper more ...

Real Absences

Barbara Johnson, 19 October 1995

Post Scripts: The Writer’s Workshop 
by Vincent Kaufmann, translated by Deborah Treisman.
Harvard, 199 pp., £31.95, June 1994, 0 674 69330 2
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The Oxford Book of Letters 
edited by Frank Kermode and Anita Kermode.
Oxford, 559 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 19 214188 0
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... character’, emigrant Anne Francis on the ants and jackals greeting colonists in South Africa, Fanny Burney on her mastectomy, two reports of witnessing executions and five different accounts of hot-air balloon voyages. There is John Addington Symonds’s description of Tennyson and Gladstone discussing Governor Eyre’s suppression of the 1865 ...


Patrick Wright: The Deer Park or the Tank Park?, 31 March 1988

... in 1990. Behind it, in what can reasonably be called a wooded grove, is the Palladian Chapel which Fanny Burney described as ‘a Pantheon in miniature’. Designed by John Tasker for Thomas Weld and made by Italian craftsmen in 1792, this is widely known as the first free-standing Catholic church to be built in England after the Reformation. Meanwhile ...

Even Purer than Before

Rosemary Hill: Angelica Kauffman, 15 December 2005

Miss Angel: The Art and World of Angelica Kauffman 
by Angelica Goodden.
Pimlico, 389 pp., £17.99, September 2005, 1 84413 758 9
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... letter-writers, many of whom she knew, remarkably little was said about her. Horace Walpole and Fanny Burney are among those who are disappointingly laconic. Even people who knew her well and admired her did so for qualities that did not lend themselves to anecdote. Johann Fiorillo wrote of her ‘exceptional sweetness’; Herder, who later had a long ...

Bang, Bang, Smash, Smash

Rosemary Hill: Beatrix Potter, 22 February 2007

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature 
by Linda Lear.
Allen Lane, 584 pp., £25, January 2007, 978 0 7139 9560 2
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... ears and tail flying off in opposite directions. Potter’s favourite authors were Jane Austen and Fanny Burney, writers who have also sometimes been underestimated as purveyors of mere prettiness. Like them Potter achieved her comic and dramatic effects through precise, restrained observation. Her gardens and landscapes are all drawn from nature. Her ...

Menagerie of Live Authors

Francesca Wade: Marys Shelley and Wollstonecraft, 8 October 2015

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley 
by Charlotte Gordon.
Hutchinson, 649 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 0 09 195894 7
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... or, as she was, forced to take low-paid jobs as governesses or widows’ companions (work Fanny Burney called ‘toad-eating’). William Godwin studied Locke at the Dissenters’ Hoxton Academy; a few hundred yards away, his future wife had to borrow copies of Locke from neighbours in order even to read him. Wollstonecraft’s first vindication ...

I am an irregular verb

Margaret Anne Doody: Laetitia Pilkington, 22 January 1998

Memoirs of Laetitia Pilkington 
edited by A.C. Elias.
Georgia, 348497 pp., £84.95, May 1997, 0 8203 1719 5
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... had written her husband’s biography, subordinating incidents in her life to those in his; Fanny Burney much later edited the Memoirs of her father, Charles Burney, introducing material related to herself as incidental. The best models of female autobiography were fictional. Delariviere Manley, who came closest ...

A Light-Blue Stocking

Helen Deutsch: Hester Lynch Salusbury Thrale Piozzi, 14 May 2009

Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr Johnson’s ‘Dear Mistress’ 
by Ian McIntyre.
Constable, 450 pp., £25, November 2008, 978 1 84529 449 6
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... star attraction of a circle that included Edmund Burke, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith, Frances Burney and Joshua Reynolds, whose portraits of the group adorned the walls of the library in Streatham. Hester presided with remarkable wit, vivacity and in Burney’s neologism, ‘agreeability’; in both contemporary and ...

Cultivating Cultivation

John Mullan: English culture, 18 June 1998

The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the 18th Century 
by John Brewer.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £19.99, January 1997, 0 00 255537 9
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... and excitements of a fashionable metropolis. Pleasure gardens were real places, visited by Fanny Burney and James Boswell as well as by characters in novels. They were also places of the imagination, whether that imagination was appalled or enraptured. They were the inventions of a society of conspicuous consumption (‘luxury’ in the old ...

Besieged by Female Writers

John Pemble: Trollope’s Late Style, 3 November 2016

Anthony Trollope’s Late Style: Victorian Liberalism and Literary Form 
by Frederik Van Dam.
Edinburgh, 180 pp., £70, January 2016, 978 0 7486 9955 1
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... concerned, there wasn’t much to say about ‘women and fiction’ at all: ‘A few remarks about Fanny Burney; a few more about Jane Austen; a tribute to the Brontës and a sketch of Haworth Parsonage under snow … a respectful allusion to George Eliot; a reference to Mrs Gaskell and one would have done.’ Women novelists had come late to English ...


Terry Castle, 3 August 1995

Jane Austen’s Letters 
edited by Deirde Le Faye.
Oxford, 621 pp., £30, March 1995, 0 19 811764 7
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... looks very nice. It seems like Sloane St moved here. I believe Henry is just rid of Sloane St – Fanny does not come, but I have Edward seated by me beginning a letter, which looks natural. One can imagine the pleasure-addiction such writing engendered. For the reader, like Cassandra, is seduced by the constant foolery: I will not say that your Mulberry ...

Old Stragers

Pat Rogers, 7 May 1981

The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the 18th Century 
by Allardyce Nicoll.
Manchester, 192 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 7190 0768 2
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The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and the London Stage 
by Linda Kelly.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 370 10466 8
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Early English Stages 1300 to 1660: Vol. 3: Plays and their Makers to 1576 
by Glynne Wickham.
Routledge, 357 pp., £14.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0218 1
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... solid diarists like Henry Crabb Robinson or Farington will have made an entry: if all else fails, Fanny Burney will have been told what went on at a first night by someone less squeamish in the choice of entertainment. And for a little filling-in of background information, there is always the wandering patentee, Tate Wilkinson, whose memoirs reveal him ...

Wakey Wakey

Susan Eilenberg, 19 October 1995

Boredom: The Literary History of a State of Mind 
by Patricia Meyer Spacks.
Chicago, 290 pp., £19.99, January 1995, 0 226 76853 8
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... sense of communal responsibilities and values. So she reads together Dr Johnson and Boswell; Fanny Burney and minor female writers of Gothic fiction; the dread Hannah More together with a marvellous collection of lesser-known women (Elizabeth Montagu, Elizabeth Carter, Mary Delany) whose letters and diaries survived against the odds; Wordsworth’s ...

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