History and Goals of the Burney Centre
The Centre is dedicated to the publication of complete, definitive scholarly editions of the journals and letters of Frances Burney (1752-1840) and the letters and memoirs of her father, the music historian Dr Charles Burney (1726-1814).
The Burney Centre was founded in 1960, as the Burney Papers Project, by the late Joyce Hemlow. Dr. Hemlow, the author of The History of Fanny Burney (Clarendon Press, 1958), taught at McGill University from 1948 and served as Director of the Centre until her retirement in 1984. She was succeeded by Lars Troide, who in turn was succeeded in 2003 by the present Director, Peter Sabor.
The Burney Centre, in conjunction with the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the McGill University Library, offers an annual Fellowship, designed to assist scholars who need to travel to and establish temporary residence in Montreal in order to use the resources of the Library.
From its inception, the Burney Centre has been supported by funding from McGill University.
In addition, the Centre currently receives generous grants from, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Canada Research Chairs programme, and the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture.
For a summary of our work, see the recent lecture by Dr Sabor and Dr Cooke: Uncensoring Charles and Frances Burney.
Summary of Holdings
The Burney Centre has over three hundred books on permanent loan from the McLennan Humanities and Social Sciences Library, including relevant correspondences, biographies, 18th-century periodicals and reference works.
It has also accumulated thousands of photocopies and hundreds of microfilm reels, which have brought together over ten thousand letters scattered over numerous collections world-wide (major collections are in the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library, the Beinecke Library at Yale, the British Library, the Morgan Library, the Houghton Library at Harvard, and the Huntington Library).
Joyce Hemlow's Catalogue of the Burney Family Correspondence 1749-1878 (ISBN 0871040379) lists these letters, written by over a thousand correspondents of the Burneys (including Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Johnson, Haydn, and other important figures), but they are described in much greater detail on index cards in the Centre's holdings. These photocopies, microfilms, descriptive indices and other research materials make the Centre a rich resource for students and scholars of many aspects of 18th- and early 19th-century British and European culture and society. The Centre's holdings are open, by prior appointment, to researchers.
The Burney Centre, via McGill University Library, has access to these related online resources:
- Early English Books Online, 1473-1700 (EEBO)
- Eighteenth Century Collections Online, 1701-1800 (ECCO)
- Literature Online, 600-1903 (LION)
- Burney Collection of 17th and 18th Century Newspapers
The Centre occupies four offices, with 1500 square-feet of space, on the fifth floor of the McLennan Humanities and Social Sciences Library, close to the Library's holdings on 18th- and 19th-century literature, history and society in Europe and America.
Searching the Burney Centre Collection
A current listing of the Burney Centre holdings on loan from McGill Libraries is available through the McGill Library Classic Catalogue: Full listing of the McGill library holdings housed at the Burney Centre.
Alternatively, our holdings can be searched using the following steps:
3) Pull down the next menu to select the type of search you would like to do.
4) You will see a list of the library materials held in the Burney Centre that match your request.