Fanny Burney



Ever aware of the sometimes comic, sometimes criminal blunderings of English high society, Frances Burney recreated what she witnessed in her novels, dramatized it in plays, and recorded it in her diary. She was born in King's Lynn, England, where under the tutelage and support of her father, she began writing extensively while still a child. She eventually published her first novel Evelina in 1778, but did so anonymously. The success of the novel made anonymity impossible though, and she became quite famous very quickly. She published three other novels, wrote eight plays, and kept an extensive diary for more than 70 years. Her diaries where published posthumously, beginning in 1841, and have become the centerpiece of her literary contributions. Her work was admired by notable literary figures like Samuel Johnson and Edmund Burke, and Jane Austen. Though not an essayist in the classical sense, her frank record of the world around her, including her relentless divulgence of her own inner thoughts, mirrors the candid confessions of Montaigne and others.

(Compiled by Joey Franklin)

See also

Essays by Fanny Burney

Curiosity regarding the author of Evelina

What strange ideas are taken from mere book-reading!

Evelina and the mystery attending its publication

I doubt not but this memorable affair will, in future times, mark the period whence chronologers will date the zenith of the polite arts in this island!

A learned man on Evelina

I almost panted with extreme agitation, from the dread either of hearing some horrible criticism, or of being betrayed: and I munched my biscuit as if I had not eaten for a fortnight.

Suggested husbands for Fanny Burney

I'm always afraid of being caught reading, lest I should pass for being studious or affected, and therefore instead of making a display of books, I always try to hide them.
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana by Patrick Madden

Quotidiana site founder Patrick Madden has just published a book of his own personal essays, including pieces formerly published in the Best American Spiritual Writing and Best Creative Nonfiction anthologies. If you enjoy the classical essays on this site, you'll enjoy these contemporary ruminations as well. Soon there'll be a web page here with further information, but for now, you can find out more (and perhaps purchase a copy) at

"Patrick Madden is an essayist of verve, passion, wit, and dependable moral compass. Quotidiana drew me in powerfully, from page to page and from pleasure to pleasure." —Ian Frazier

2011 Symposium on the Essay
Welcome Table Press Symposium on the Essay

Friend of Quotidiana Kim Dana Kupperman's Welcome Table Press is hosting a one-day symposium at Fordham University on Saturday, October 15th, 2011. In Praise of the Essay: Practice & Form will feature talks and discussions by Phillip Lopate, Robin Hemley, Barbara Hurd, and more.


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