|Frontispiece of Cecilia (Vol 1)|
by Fanny Burney (1825)
An influence on Jane Austen
Jane Austen admired Fanny Burney’s works and was undoubtedly influenced by them in her own writings. Her name is listed as a subscriber to Burney’s third novel, Camilla.
The title of Austen’s most famous book derives from a passage in Cecilia:
“The whole of this unfortunate business,” said Dr Lyster, “has been the result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE.”(1)A parallel with Emma
In Cecilia, the heroine befriends poor Henrietta Belfield, but is dismayed when she discovers they are in love with the same man. This is reflected in Austen’s novel Emma, where the heroine befriends poor Harriet Smith and later discovers that they are both in love with Mr Knightley.
Burney, like Austen, included in her work passages in support of reading:
“Cecilia… secured to herself, for the future occupation of her leisure hours, the exhaustless fund of entertainment which reading, that richest, highest, noblest source of intellectual enjoyment, perpetually affords.”(2)In the same way, Burney has a dig at people who look down on authors by placing the following words into the mouth of the proud and obnoxious Mr Delvile:
“And let me counsel you to remember, that a lady, whether so called from birth or only from fortune, should never degrade herself by being put on a level with writers, and such sort of people.”(2Notes
(1) From Cecilia or Memoirs of an Heiress - capitals as in 1825 version.
(2) From Cecilia or Memoirs of an Heiress (1825).
Sources used include
Austen, Jane, Emma (1816)
Burney, Fanny, Cecilia or Memoirs of an Heiress (1825 version)
Burney, Fanny, Diary and letters of Madame D'Arblay, edited by her niece, Charlotte Barrett (Henry Colburn, 1846, London)