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 was once positioned within the arched recess of stained glass that graces Poets nook. Novelist, playwright and diarist, Frances Burney is among the few ladies accorded such an honour. She joins the likes of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot who could in many ways be obvious as her literary heirs. Burney s trip to acceptance at the level of the realm has been an extended one, topped eventually with triumph. The provider marked the mid-point of a two-day convention during which numerous features 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 disguise the various features of a striking occupation and characterize the large spectrum of scholarly techniques to the whole opus of Frances Burney. It indicates how some distance Burney has come from being disregarded as a minor precursor to Jane Austen to being well-known in her personal correct as a robust, advanced and influential author, whose works had enormous influence on her personal and next generations.
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Extra info for A Celebration of Frances Burney
The early journals remained unpublished until 1889, when they were edited by Annie Raine Ellis. (EJL 1:xxvi-xxvii). 1 Scholars have turned to the journals as sources of biographical information, considered them as a type of practicewriting for the novels upon which her modern literary reputation chiefly rests, and examined them as part of a female tradition of life-writing. All of these are potentially useful ways to read the journals in general and the early journals in particular, but I suggest that the early journals may also be read rather differently from the later journals.
D. D. Devlin regards the journals as valuable almost entirely because they led to Burney’s work as a novelist. ”8 That something bigger is, of course Evelina and the novels and plays to follow. 10 Doing so nevertheless obscures one very important point: the mature work does not yet exist at the time of the early writings and there is no real reason, from that earlier vantage point, to assume that it will, at least not in the form it ultimately takes. That Burney’s diary-writing served as preparation for her later career as novelist and dramatist is, with hindsight, obvious; that it was intended to do so––that is, that it served as a conscious apprenticeship for that career––is less obvious.
In the dedication to her father that prefaces The Wanderer, published in 1814, she again reflects upon this scene and the distrust of writing, especially the writing of fiction that had motivated her: So early was I impressed myself with ideas that fastened degradation to this class of composition, that at the age of adolescence, I struggled against the propensity which, even in childhood, even from the moment I A Celebration of Frances Burney 19 could hold a pen, had impelled me into its toils; and on my fifteenth birthday, I made so resolute a conquest over an inclination at which I blushed, and that I had always kept secret, that I committed to the flames whatever, up to that moment, I had committed to paper.
A Celebration of Frances Burney by Lorna J. Clark