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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Fanny Burney

b. 1752, King's Lynn, Norfolk, England; d. 1840, London

Frances “Fanny” Burney, whom Virginia Woolf once called the “mother of English fiction,” was one of the first successful female novelists. She achieved celebrity after the success of her first novel Evelina, or, A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (1778), and her talent for revealing social truth through her work was further demonstrated in her second published novel, Cecilia, or, Memoirs of an Heiress (1782). A celebrated diarist, she drew on both her experiences in England’s intellectual society and the dramatic events of her own close-knit family to create literary works, including plays, which provided an entertaining and realistic view of the social scene of her day. After her death in 1840, her journals, titled The Diary and Letters of Madame d’Arblay (1842–46), were edited and published by her niece, Charlotte Barrett.