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Too Many Pears

Thomas Keymer: Frances Burney

26 August 2015
The Court Journals and Letters of Frances Burney​ 1786-91, Vols III-IV: 1788 
edited by Lorna Clark.
Oxford, 824 pp., £225, September 2014, 978 0 19 968814 2
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... When​ FrancesBurney’s journals were published by her niece in a seven-volume series of highlights (Diary and Letters of Madame d’Arblay, 1842-46), they were savaged by John Wilson Croker in the Tory Quarterly Review ...

Daddying

Alethea Hayter

14 September 1989
Frances BurneyThe Life in the Works 
by Margaret Anne Doody.
Cambridge, 441 pp., £30, April 1989, 9780521362580
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... they may ‘feel horrified at what they they regard as a changeling-substitution of a mad Gothic feminist for the cheerful little Augustan chatterbox’ which is the conventional picture of Fanny Burney. Stimulated to anger by past biographers who see Fanny Burney as sunny and shallow, ‘dear little Burney’, who class her with, but below, Jane Austen, who are interested only in Evelina and the ...

Never mind the neighbours

Margaret Anne Doody

4 April 1996
Delphine 
by Germaine de Staël, translated by Avriel Goldberger.
Northern Illinois, 468 pp., $50, September 1995, 0 87580 200 1
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... In England during her exile of 1792, Mme de Staël was puzzled as well as offended that FrancesBurney, who was then 40, should have felt it necessary to obey her father’s instruction no longer to associate with the adulterous Baronne. Mme de Staël remarked in some puzzlement to Susanna Phillips ...

Preceding Backwardness

Margaret Anne Doody

9 January 1992
Women’s Lives and the 18th-Century English Novel 
by Elizabeth Bergan Brophy.
University of South Florida Press, 291 pp., $29.95, April 1991, 0 8130 1036 5
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Fictions of Modesty: Women and Courtship in the English Novel 
by Ruth Bernard Yeazell.
Chicago, 306 pp., £19.95, August 1991, 0 226 95096 4
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... gives us a section of information derived from the novels, restricted to the work of seven novelists: Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Sarah Fielding, Charlotte Lennox, Sarah Scott, Clara Reeve and FrancesBurney. (There are occasional references to other writers, such as Jane Austen.) A segment on, for instance, ‘Daughters’ will discuss daughters and the code of daughterliness as represented in ...

At least that was the idea

Thomas Keymer: Johnson and Boswell’s Club

10 October 2019
The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends who Shaped an Age 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 488 pp., £20, April, 978 0 300 21790 2
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... however, Johnson and Boswell could play more plausibly on the idea (brought up when they visited St Andrews) of the Club as powerful enough to revive a decayed university. The musicologist Charles Burney attained a long-held ambition by joining shortly before Johnson’s death in 1784, and recalled it as Johnson’s wish ‘that our Club should be composed of the heads of every liberal and literary ...

Closets of Knowledge

Frank Kermode: Privacy

19 June 2003
Privacy: Concealing the 18th-Century Self 
by Patricia Meyer Spacks.
Chicago, 248 pp., £25.50, May 2003, 0 226 76860 0
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... of dangerous imaginings. Richardson, Rousseau and Sterne are important here, but so are a troop of female writers: Jane Austen, here delicately analysed, but also Charlotte Lennox, Sarah Fielding, FrancesBurney and others. Dr Johnson remarked that the ‘call for books’ had greatly increased since Milton’s time. ‘To read was not then a general amusement; neither traders, nor often gentlemen ...

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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... stink of the Kitchen’), she found that hostess was the occupation that suited her best. Johnson was soon the star attraction of a circle that included Edmund Burke, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith, FrancesBurney 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 ...

Malice

John Mullan: Fanny Burney

23 August 2001
Fanny BurneyA Biography 
by Claire Harman.
Flamingo, 464 pp., £8.99, October 2001, 0 00 655036 3
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Fanny BurneyHer Life 
by Kate Chisholm.
Vintage, 347 pp., £7.99, June 1999, 0 09 959021 2
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Faithful Handmaid: Fanny Burney​ at the Court of King George III 
by Hester Davenport.
Sutton, 224 pp., £25, June 2000, 0 7509 1881 0
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... In March 1815, Madame d’Arblay, the woman we know better as Fanny Burney, was forced by the arrival of Napoleon from Elba to flee Paris and to leave behind almost all her possessions. ‘Books – Cloaths Trinkets – Linnen – argenterie Goods – MSS!!! All!’ When ...

Boom and Bust

Margaret Anne Doody

19 June 1997
A History of the Breast 
by Marilyn Yalom.
HarperCollins, 331 pp., £15.99, March 1997, 0 04 440913 3
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... about it in his ‘Letter on the Nature and Cure of Cancer’ (1697). Eighteenth-century women began to worry about breast cancer. Mary Astell was operated on for it, and so, with more success, was FrancesBurney. Breast cancer – or suspected breast cancer – figured in literature by women earlier than one might expect; Yalom doesn’t cite Frances Sheridan’s Memoirs of Miss Sidney Biddulph (1761 ...

Lunacies

Ian Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’

23 October 2003
Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... and those qualities were much needed. By 1782, the masters of the mid-century were all dead: Fielding in 1754, Richardson in 1761, Sterne in 1768 and Smollett in 1771. Among his contemporaries, only FrancesBurney was at the height of her powers. Neither Ann Radcliffe, whose Gothic romances would soon enjoy immense popularity, nor the younger radical novelists such as Godwin, Wollstonecraft and Holcroft ...

Travels without My Aunt

Catherine Gallagher: The 18th-century family

3 November 2005
Novel Relations: The Transformation of Kinship in English Literature and Culture 1748-1818 
by Ruth Perry.
Cambridge, 466 pp., £50, August 2004, 0 521 83694 8
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... too of coincidental reunions and deathbed reconciliations. If such endings signify a longing to be folded back into one’s biological family, then George Eliot seems to have felt it as keenly as FrancesBurney. Should we, following the same logic, interpret the popularity of 20th-century multi-generational epic novel cycles (or for that matter, soap operas) as proof that we’re still nostalgic for ...

Too Good and Too Silly

Frank Kermode: Could Darcy Swim?

30 April 2009
The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Vol. IX: Later Manuscripts 
edited by Janet Todd and Linda Bree.
Cambridge, 742 pp., £65, December 2008, 978 0 521 84348 5
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Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World 
by Claire Harman.
Canongate, 342 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 1 84767 294 0
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... only be the adored subject of an enthusiastic cult, but can elicit the acclaim of scholars who count her among the greatest novelists in the language. They tend to quote what Austen herself said of FrancesBurney and Maria Edgeworth, that they conveyed in their novels ‘the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties . . . in the best-chosen language’. Claire ...

Dear Miss Boothby

Margaret Anne Doody

5 November 1992
The Letters of Samuel Johnson: Vol. I: 1731-1772, Vol. II: 1773-1776, Vol. III: 1777-1781 
edited by Bruce Redford.
Oxford, 431 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 19 811287 4
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... indicates charitable giving). We don’t have any very early letters of Johnson. With some writers, even in the 18th century, we have epistles written in their teens, and from the early twenties (FrancesBurney and Horace Walpole). Johnson was born in September 1709; the first letter of Volume I is dated 30 October 1731, when Johnson was 22. There must have been some letters by the younger Johnson ...

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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... in it Nero’s couch, a statue of Cerberus and a skeleton of an Ethiopian, the bones stuck with porcupine quills. Here is a cabinet of curiosities. In it are a ribbon pretending to have belonged to Frances Thrale (dead in infancy) but in fact stolen from a nurse’s work-basket and fraudulently labelled, a poem about sunsets written by Mrs Williams all by herself with no help at all from Dr Johnson, a ...

Women beware men

Margaret Anne Doody

23 July 1992
Backlash: The Undeclared War against Women 
by Susan Faludi.
Chatto, 592 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 7011 4643 5
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The War against Women 
by Marilyn French.
Hamish Hamilton, 229 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 241 13271 1
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... there is an underlying awareness that women have needed men for financial support because of the way the economy is set up and that marriage is not designed by or for women. This again is not news. FrancesBurney in her teens, watching a wedding take place at a neighbouring church, wrote: O how short a time does it take to put an eternal end to a woman’s liberty!’ Women don’t necessarily want ...

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