Fanny Burney was best known in her own time as the author of Evilina and other novels. Her modern reputation, however, rests primarily on her extensive journals and letters. The third of eleven children of Charles Burney, an eminent musician, author, and composer, she began keeping a journal of her experiences in London's musical, theatrical, and literary circles as a shy and precocious girl of 15. She had a keen intelligence, a marvellous sense of humour, and an exceptional memory, all of which are evident in the detailed picture of contemporary English society presented in her writings. She also gives first-hand descriptions of many of the important figures of the time, such as David Garrick, Christopher Smart, and Antonio Sacchini among others.
Volume One is the first of a projected twelve-volume edition of Burney's early journals and letters and covers the years 1768-73. This edition reproduces her earliest journals in their original form, replacing omitted and altered passages. It shows her development as an artist and contains typically vivid sketches of her family, friends, and acquaintances in London and the country. Further volumes will cover the so-called "Streatham Years" (1778-86, 4 vols.) and "Court Years" (1786-91, 6 vols.). These
will carry her through the period of her greatest fame as the author of the novels Evelina (1778) and Cecilia (1782), and will end with her exit from the Court of King George III and Queen Charlotte after five exhausting years of service to the Queen as Second Keeper of the Robes. Eighteenth-century scholars generally regard Fanny's early journals as her freshest and most appealing.
This edition complements Joyce Hemlow's Oxford edition of Burney's letters and journals from 1791 to 1840 (12 vols., Oxford, 1972-84). While the early journals have been printed before, Lars Troide's edition will provide the first full text of Fanny's early journals, accompanied by thorough and accurate annotations which fully explicate the context in which the journals were written.