Current Issue

For the contents of the current issue of The Burney Journal, see below. For past issues, see here. For full copies of the Journal or articles from previous volumes, please contact your library or the Editors.

Volume 16 (2019)

“Editor’s Note” by Marilyn Francus

“Putting Burney in Her Place” by Linda Zionkowski

Abstract: Daughter of a renowned musicologist and a celebrated author in her own right, Frances Burney stood at the center of Britain's social, political, and cultural scene from her young adulthood well into old age. Yet despite Burney's apparently firm toehold in the elite circles of her time, her letters and journals detail her experiences with the threatened or very real loss of those deep relationships with people and places that fostered Burney's sense of who she was, what she was, and where she belonged. I argue that in these writings, Burney represents the trauma of insecurity over her place, particularly in three salient instances: her exposure as the author of Evelina, her position at Court attending Queen Charlotte, and her residence in France from 1802-1812, including the Hundred Days of Napoleon's return from exile on Elba and final defeat at the battle of Waterloo. Whether they were jotted down in haste or carefully crafted, the journals and letters describing these episodes recount Burney's forced estrangement from her familiar surroundings while also recording her attempts to shape her experiences in narrative forms that would mitigate their danger to herself. By detailing her alienation from anything resembling an established home and portraying her confinement and dislocation in increasingly unstable environments, Burney's writings articulate an emerging recognition of exile as endemic to contemporary life.

Keywords: Burney, Frances, 1752-1840; d'Arblay, Alexandre, 1748-1818; Burney, Charles, 1726-1814; exile; immigrants; Napoleonic wars; Waterloo; passport; displacement; alienation; refugee; home.

“The Cloaked Actress in Evelina and The Wanderer” by Bethany Wong

Abstract: This essay revisits the apparent opposition between theater and the novel as well as the public actress and private heroine to identify what I call “virtuous theatricality” in Frances Burney’s conception of authorship. This term celebrates her complex appreciation for, and appropriation of, the theater and role playing in her novels. Building on recent work about celebrity actresses by Laura Engel, Felicity Nussbaum, Gill Perry, and others, I argue that Burney’s construction of authorial identity recalls the professional actress’s skillful negotiation between her public and private personas. Focusing on Burney’s treatment of actresses implicitly in Evelina and explicitly in The Wanderer, I consider how Frances Abington’s and Elizabeth Farren’s acts of self-fashioning in portraits and during private theatricals frame Burney’s depictions of virtuous femininity. I contend that the allusions to actresses in the novels are not attempts to forget them but to suggest ways that Burney is strategically aligning herself with them. Throughout her life, Burney was an enthusiastic audience member, a reluctant actress, a shy celebrity, a dramatic novelist, and a gifted playwright. These roles manifest creatively in her work as her heroines literally and metaphorically go to the theater to legitimize their virtue before a skeptical male audience.

Keywords: Burney, Frances, 1752-1840; The Wanderer; Evelina; 18th-century English literature; Abington, Mrs. (Frances Barton), 1737-1815; Farren, Elizabeth, 1762-1829; actress; celebrity; novel; theater; gender; virtue; authorship.

““A drudge amid the smiles of Wealth and Power”: the Burneys and their Montagu Patrons” by Joy Hudson

Abstract: For the Burneys, the Montagu family represented an important source of social and professional influence. John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, and (to a lesser degree) Captain John Montagu supported Charles Burney’s musical career and James Burney’s advancement in the Royal Navy. The cost of patronage, however, is revealed in Charles’s correspondence and, in particular, the circumstances surrounding the suppression of Frances Burney’s first play, The Witlings (1779). Although Frances had little direct connection to the earl, I argue that his famous episodes with monkeys may have served as the model for Captain Mirvan and the notorious monkey incident in her novel Evelina (1778). While Frances was better acquainted with the Bluestocking Elizabeth Montagu, she nonetheless satirized Montagu’s support of women writers as the foolish Lady Smatter in The Witlings, which served as her indictment of a system of patronage and dependence that she was ultimately able to escape.

Keywords: Burney, Charles, 1726-1814; Burney, James, 1750-1821; Burney, Frances, 1752-1840; Montagu, John, 1719-1795; Montagu, John, Earl of Sandwich, 1718-1792; Montagu, Elizabeth, 1718-1800; Patronage; Navy, music history, The Witlings; Evelina.  

“The Antiquarian Reception of Charles Burney’s A General History of Music” by Devon Nelson

Abstract: Antiquarians affirmed the musical authority of Charles Burney’s A General History of Music (1776-1789) in their own writings because of the social connections of the author, the thoroughness and transparency of his research process, and the types and presentation of his evidence—traits highly valued in historical writing by intellectuals in late eighteenth-century Britain. Burney was connected to important intellectual figures who were trusted by antiquarians; he publicized the intensity of his research efforts in earlier travel publications, used evidence similar to other authoritative writings, and presented his materials in formats familiar to antiquarians. The reception of Burney’s history reveals British intellectuals' values in historical writing—an authoritative author clearly presenting evidence that readers can judge. By contextualizing the positive reception of a history book by discerning critics, this essay demonstrates the processes by which historical authority was cultivated in the late-eighteenth century.

Keywords: Burney, Charles, 1726-1814; antiquarianism; music histories; historiography; reception.

“Year in Burney Studies 2017” by Deborah Barnum

“Year in Burney Studies 2018” by Deborah Barnum

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