Burney, Fanny, later Madame D'Arblay (därblāˈ) [key], 1752–1840, English novelist, daughter of Charles Burney, the composer, organist, and music scholar. Although she received no formal education, she read prodigiously and had the benefit of conversation with her father's famous friends, including David Garrick, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Samuel Crisp. Her first novel and best-known book, Evelina (1778), was published anonymously, but she soon acknowledged its authorship and achieved literary prominence. She became an intimate friend of Samuel Johnson and his circle. Her second novel, Cecilia, appeared in 1782, Camilla in 1796, and The Wanderer in 1814. The theme of Burney's books is the entry into society of a virtuous but inexperienced young girl, her mistakes, and her gradual coming of age. She spent five unhappy years (1786–91) as a member of Queen Charlotte's household. In 1793 she married General D'Arblay, a French émigré. Her voluminous journals and letters give an excellent account of English culture and society from 1768 to 1840.
See biographies by E. Hahn (1950) and C. Harman (2001); studies by M. E. Adelstein (1969), T. G. Wallace, ed. (1984), and K. Straub (1988).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.