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Frances Burney D'Arblay

(b. June 13, 1752, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, England – d. Jan. 6, 1840, 29 Lower Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, London )

Gender: F

Frances Burney (1752-1840) was the daughter of Dr Charles Burney, a musician. She came to public attention with the publication of her novel Evelina in 1778; this was followed by the equally successful Cecilia in 1782. She was a close friend of Hester Thrale and Samuel Johnson, but rejected Thrale when she married her second husband, Gabriele Piozzi. She was devoted to Mary Delany, at whose house she was introduced to Queen Charlotte, who appointed her Second Mistress of the Queen’s Robes in 1786. Fanny suffered from the resentment of her superior, Madame Schwellenberg, and after four years persuaded the Queen to allow her to leave her service with a pension. In 1791 she met a number of French exiles at Juniper Hall in Surrey, when visiting her sister Susanna Phillips who lived nearby, and fell in love with the impoverished General Alexandre D’Arblay, whom she married in 1793 despite her father’s disapproval. Her novel Camilla, published in 1796, for which the publisher paid her £2,000, saved them from penury, and in 1801 they moved to France, where they stayed for ten years. In 1811 she developed breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. They returned to England after the fall of Napoleon, and her husband died in 1818. Fanny published a biography of her father in 1832, and was devastated by the death of her only son in 1837. She died in Bath at the age of 88. Her diaries and letters were edited by her niece and published in 1842; with their incisive and amusing observations, they provide a colourful picture of her time.

Also known as:

  • Frances D'Arblay (née  Burney)

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