F is for “Fanny Burney” by Claire Harman. This is a wonderful biography by a talented writer. Claire Harman has written biographies of Charlotte Bronte, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sylvia Townsend Warner whose book Lolly Willowes I recently read.
Fanny Burney lived and wrote in the 1700’s, a time when women often had to write under a pseudonym to remain respectable. Her father was a man of letters whose friends included Dr. Johnson, Edmund Burke and David Garrick, and Fanny grew up in a home where the men of the day were frequent visitors. Fanny was self taught and wrote journals at a young age, her older sisters being sent away to school since they were considered more intelligent.
Fanny’s first book, Evelina, was a success and she wrote several others. She became well known and was for a while Keeper of the robes for Queen Charlotte. But Fanny is best known, perhaps, for her contribution to the English dictionary. If a word was not available she created one, making verbs out of nouns and adjectives out of verbs. We owe “tea party” ,”sulk”, and “grumpy” to Fanny Burney.
This is an excellent book about Fanny Burney and the 18th century.