- Publish Date: 2016-03-25
- Binding: Paperback
- Author: Frances Burney
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Evelina: Or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World is a novel written by English author Frances Burney and first published in 1778. In this epistolary novel in three volumes, Evelina, the title character, is the unacknowledged daughter of a dissipated English aristocrat. Her dubious birth has seen her raised in rural seclusion until her eighteenth year. Through a series of humorous events that take place in London and the resort town of Bristol-Hotwells, Evelina learns how to navigate the complex layers of 18th century society and earn the love of a distinguished nobleman. This sentimental novel of manners often satirizes the society in which it is set and is a significant precursor to later works by Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth, whose novels explore many of the same issues. Frances Burney (13 June 1752 6 January 1840), also known as Fanny Burney and after her marriage as Madame d'Arblay, was an English novelist, diarist and playwright. She was born in Lynn Regis, now King's Lynn, England, on 13 June 1752, to musical historian Dr. Charles Burney (17261814) and Esther Sleepe Burney (17251762). The third of six children, she was self-educated and began writing what she called her scribblings at the age of ten. In 1793, aged 42, she married a French exile, General Alexandre D'Arblay. Their only son, Alexander, was born in 1794. After a lengthy writing career, and travels that took her to France for more than ten years, she settled in Bath, England, where she died on 6 January 1840. Frances Burney was a novelist, diarist and playwright. She wrote in all four novels, eight plays, one biography and twenty volumes of journals and letters. She has gained critical respect in her own right, but also foreshadows such novelists of manners with a satirical bent as Jane Austen and Thackeray. She published her first novel, Evelina, anonymously in 1778. When the book's authorship was revealed, it brought her almost immediate fame due to its unique narrative and comic strengths. She followed it with Cecilia in 1782, Camilla in 1796 and The Wanderer in 1814. All Burney's novels explore the lives of English aristocrats, and satirise their social pretensions and personal foibles, with an eye to larger questions such as the politics of female identity. With one exception, Burney never succeeded in having her plays performed, largely due to objections from her father, who thought that publicity from such an effort would be damaging to her reputation. The exception was Edwy and Elgiva, which unfortunately was not well received by the public and closed after the first night's performance. Although her novels were hugely popular during her lifetime, Burney's reputation as a writer of fiction suffered after her death at the hands of biographers and critics who felt that the extensive diaries, published posthumously in 1841, offered a more interesting and accurate portrait of 18th-century life. Today critics are returning to her novels and plays with renewed interest in her outlook on the social lives and struggles of women in a predominantly male-oriented culture. Scholars continue to value Burney's diaries as well for their candid depictions of English society in her time. Throughout her career as a writer, her wit and talent for satirical caricature were widely acknowledged: literary figures such as Dr Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Hester Thrale and David Garrick were among her admirers. Her early novels were read and enjoyed by Jane Austen, whose own title Pride and Prejudice derives from the final pages of Cecilia. William Makepeace Thackeray is reported to have drawn on the first-person account of the Battle of Waterloo, recorded in her diaries, while writing Vanity Fair.
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