The Famous Miss Burney


A solo show based on the journals and letters of Fanny Burney,

later Madame D’Arblay (1752-1840); diarist, novelist, playwright, lady-in-waiting to King George III and Queen Charlotte.

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Frances Burney (1752-1840), Fanny to her family and friends, Jane Austen’s most admired authoress, is best known to later generations for her journals, her letters and her first novel EVELINA.

Her journals offer a witty, perceptive and highly personal view of life in late l8th century London and elsewhere. They are the products of industry, talent and a remarkable memory, combined with a determination to stay in close touch with loved ones. They are full of shrewd and illuminating comment, and of hilarious reported conversations.

The success of EVELINA in l778 brought Frances Burney into contact with celebrities of the day – Samuel Johnson, R.B.Sheridan and many others – and led to her being offered a post at the Court of King George III. The journals she kept during her five years there are detailed, sympathetic and endlessly entertaining

This show lasts one hour and a half, including a ten-minute interval. It is drawn by Karin Fernald from the journals and includes music by Handel and Gretry.



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“Fanny Burney’s Journals and letters have found an ideal exponent”
Irving Wardle, The Times
“Full of lively humour and much graced by the personality of the actress”
Harold Atkins, Daily Telegraph


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An exquisite period piece. Comic clarity and deft touch. Here is an actress of diction, grace movement, intelligence and wit.”
The Stage
“Humane exploration of art and human nature”

J.W. Lambert, Sunday Times


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“A unique charm and vision to make history breath afresh”

Japan Times

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“Kings and commoners alike are subject to intensive scrunity and are projected on stage in a manner which is as amusing as it is enthralling”
The Scotsman


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“A compelling performance”

Bath Festival of Literature

“No less admirable in presentation than in content, the entertainment delighted a packed house”

Nottingham Evening Post


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Mole Valley Festival
“A lot of fun”

Kate Chisholm, author of Fanny Burney: Her Life



In England it has been performed in venues including; the Edinburgh, Bath, Brighton and King’s Lynn Festivals; the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh; the Redgrave Theatre, Farnham, Surrey; the Georgian Theatre, Richmond, Yorkshire; Eton College; the Young Vic Theatre, the Soho Poly Theatre, London, and in September 2006 at Dr. Johnson’s House, Gough Square, London.

The show has been performed in Canada, greatly assisted by the Burney Project at McGill University, Montreal under its founder Dr.Joyce Hemlow. It has also been performed in Greece, Germany, Sweden and Japan for the British Council, and at the Sorbonne in Paris. In the US it has been presented at Yale and Princeton Universities, the University of North Carolina and at the Players’ Club, New York.

Please read the Complete Reviews from which these extracts have been taken.

Today EVELINA continues to attract many admirers. Less frequently read are Frances’ remaining three novels, CECILIA, CAMILLA and THE WANDERER, though much attention has been paid to them in recent years. Her comedies THE WITLINGS, LOVE AND FASHION and THE WOMAN HATER are all marvellous reads and have been successfully performed in small theatres. When her fourth comedy, A BUSY DAY, was put on in London’s West End theatre in 2002 it was much enjoyed.

Aged 41 Frances Burney married the French √©migr√© soldier and aristocrat Alexandre D’Arblay in l793 – a love match chronicled in her later journals.

They lived together peacefully in Surrey, producing one son, and then in the turmoil of Revolutionary France. Madame D’Arblay’s observation of Brussels at the time of the Battle of Waterloo furnished Thackeray with details for VANITY FAIR.

Madame D’Arblay’s moment-to-moment account of her operation for breast cancer in l811, written a year later, has become justly celebrated in medical history.