Madame D’Arblay

3D front cover of Diary and Letters of Madame d'ArblayAn update to a much earlier blog: you may be interested to know that we have just reissued the seven volumes of Fanny Burney’s diary and letters, edited by her niece Charlotte Barrett (1786–1870) and first published between 1842 and 1846.

I mentioned her account of George III going sea bathing in Weymouth: read it in full in volume 5, as well as this diary extract: ‘The Queen is reading Mrs Piozzi’s Tour to me, instead of my reading it to her. She loves reading aloud, and in this work finds me an able commentator. How like herself, how characteristic, is every line! – Wild, entertaining, flighty, inconsistent, and clever!’

And the next day: ‘…I strolled upon the sands with Mrs Gwynn. We overtook a lady, of a very majestic port and demeanour, who solemnly returned Mrs Gwynn’s salutation, and then addressed herself to me with similar gravity. I saw a face I knew, and of very uncommon beauty; but did not immediately recollect it was Mrs Siddons.’

A week or so later: ‘Today we went to Lulworth Castle. Her Majesty ordered our Royal coach and four… It is the property of Mr Weld, a Roman Catholic, whose eldest brother was the first husband of Mrs Fitzherbert. A singular circumstance, that their Majesties should visit a house in which, so few years ago, she might have received them.’

All this gossip (I mean, of course, fascinating social history) in the space of a few pages in just one volume. And a cast of hundreds, including Fanny’s father and brothers, the royal princesses, Dr Johnson, Madame de Staël, Edmund Burke, Warren Hastings, and even Sir Joseph Banks!

Caroline

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