Frances Burney

English satirical novelist, diarist, playwright (1752-1840)

Frances Burney (13 June 17526 January 1840), also known as Fanny Burney and after marriage as Madame d'Arblay, was an English novelist, poet, diarist, and playwright.

I cannot be much pleased without an appearance of truth; at least of possibility...




  • To have some account of my thoughts, manners, acquaintance and actions, when the hour arrives in which time is more nimble than memory, is the reason which induces me to keep a journal: a journal in which I must confess my every thought, must open my whole heart!
    • The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, vol. 1, p. 1, journal entry, March 27, 1768.
  • I cannot be much pleased without an appearance of truth; at least of possibility — I wish the history to be natural though the sentiments are refined; and the characters to be probable, though their behaviour is excelling.
    • The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, vol. 1, p. 8, journal entry, 1768.
  • Look at your [English] ladies of quality—are they not forever parting with their husbands—forfeiting their reputations—and is their life aught but dissipation? In common genteel life, indeed, you may now and then meet with very fine girls—who have politeness, sense and conversation—but these are few—and then look at your trademen's daughters—what are they?—poor creatures indeed! all pertness, imitation and folly.
    • The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, vol. 1, p. 47, journal entry, November 17, 1768.
  • When once—which every body must be—you are convinced of the wickedness and deceit of men, it is impossible to preserve untainted your own innocence of heart. Experience will prove the depravity of mankind, and the conviction of it only serves to create distrust, suspicion—caution—and sometimes causelessly.
    • The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, vol. 1, pp. 47-48, journal entry, November 17, 1768.
  • Money is the source of the greatest vice, & that Nation which is most rich, is most wicked.
    • The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, vol. 1, p. 48, journal entry, November 17, 1768.
  • A youthful mind is seldom totally free from ambition; to curb that, is the first step to contentment, since to diminish expectation is to increase enjoyment.
    • Letter VI
  • it has been long and justly remarked, that folly has ever sought alliance with beauty.
    • Letter VI
  • I looked about for some of my acquaintance, but in vain, for I saw not one person that I knew, which is very odd, for all the world seemed there.
    • Letter X
  • A private ball this was called...but Lord! my dear Sir, I believe I saw half the world!
    • Letter XI
  • he said, 'Madam—may I presume?'—and stopped, offering to take my hand. I...could scarce forbear laughing. 'Allow me, Madam,' continuing he, affectedly breaking off every half moment, 'the honour and happiness...the happiness and honor...'
    • Letter XI
  • Tired, ashamed, and mortified, I begged to sit down till we returned home, which I did soon after. Lord Orville did me the honour to hand me to the coach, talking all the way of the honour I had done him! O these fashionable people!
    • Letter XI
  • 'No, Madam,' cried I, '—only—only I did not know that gentleman,—and so,—and so I thought—I intended—I—'
    Overpowered by all that had passed, I had not strength to make my mortifying explanation; — my spirits quite failed me, and I burst into tears.
    • Letter XIII
  • I am too inexperienced and ignorant to conduct myself with propriety in this town, where every thing is new to me, and many things are unaccountable and perplexing.
    • Letter XIII
  • To despise riches may, indeed, be philosophic; but to dispense them worthily must, surely, be more beneficial to mankind.
    • Letter XXVII
  • Remember, my dear Evelina, nothing is so delicate as the reputation of a woman; it is at once the most beautiful and most brittle of all human things.
    • Letter XXXIX
  • Unused to the situations in which I find myself, and embarrassed by the slightest difficulties, I seldom, till too late, discover how I ought to act.
    • Letter LXVI

Quotes About

  • Henry Fielding, too, would have been afraid of her: there is nothing so delicately finished in all of Harry Fieldings works as Evelina.
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