Frances Burney (1752–1840). One of the most important novelists of the second half of the 18th century and a major influence on later figures, including Jane Austen. Like Austen, Burney grew up in a family of readers and writers. Her father was the author of a four-volume history of music, published in the 1770s and 1780s, and the friend of such literary men as Samuel Johnson. Her mother died in 1762, when Burney was about 10. In her early 20s, she and her family moved into a house once occupied by Isaac Newton, whose observatory had been set up in the attic. Burney published her first novel, Evelina, anonymously in 1778. She followed up on its success with another novel, Cecilia, in 1782. Starting in 1786, she worked as second keeper of the robes to Queen Charlotte, spending much of her time at Windsor Castle. She found the job exhausting and boring and was more than happy to leave it in 1791. Married in 1793 to a refugee from the French Revolution, she had one child, a son. Burney survived breast cancer, living for 30 years after a painful mastectomy, and was preceded in death by both her husband and her son. Along with Evelina and Cecilia, she is best known for another novel, Camilla (1796), and for her journals, which first appeared in print in the 1840s.
[Courtesy: Professor Timothy Spurgin]