Frances Burney d’Arblay and Anglican Womanhood, 1752 – 1840.
University of Cambridge
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Waterfield, D. (2019). Frances Burney d’Arblay and Anglican Womanhood, 1752 – 1840. (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.66456
A resurgence of interest precipitated by Joyce Hemlow in the middle half of the twentieth century has rescued the British novelist Frances Burney d’Arblay’s (1752 – 1840) cutting social criticism from the shadow of her near-contemporary Jane Austen. Yet such work has – with the exception of recent work on the colonial contexts of the Burney family as a whole – centred on the standard gendered contexts of elite social spaces and marriage markets. Frances Burney, however, was the Anglican daughter of a Catholic mother, counted Burke, Garrick, Johnson, and Mrs Thrale among her friends after Evelina’s publication in 1778, spent five years as servant to Queen Charlotte, witnessing the Hastings Trial and George’s first illness, then married a French Roman Catholic émigré and spent ten years trapped in France during the Napoleonic War. Her father, a musicologist and teacher, struggled to reconcile a conservative elite sociability with the quasi-proscribed Catholicism of his wider circle. This thesis argues Frances’ world view is deeply engaged with contemporary political philosophy. Her correspondence and romance plots work out the contradictions of performing a sectarian Anglican Womanhood which is both self-evidently artificial yet supposedly innate, naturalising a brutal Protestant hegemony which condemns her family and friends. Her romance plots, centring on disputed inheritances and disrupted lineages, reflect her early reading of David Hume, and tacitly acknowledge Stuart rights while defending Hanoverian legitimacy on Humean grounds of peace and stability. If her early novels display a hope that contested identities can be reconciled, it does not survive exposure to the court. By the time of the French Revolution, after sectarian riots, and with royal illness raging, the emotional turmoil of the families in Burney’s novels reflect a broken royal body, and a fractured landscape.
Frances Burney, History, Eighteenth Century, Nationalism, Anglicanism
Pigott fund, CHESS
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.66456
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