Authoring the 'author of my being' in Memoirs of Doctor Burney

Ulph, C. (2018) Authoring the 'author of my being' in Memoirs of Doctor Burney. Eighteenth-Century Life, 42 (2). pp. 152-169. ISSN 0098-2601

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The formative influence on Frances Burney’s work of the artistic-professional context of her upbringing has only recently begun to be recognised. As I argue elsewhere, early experiences in her father’s musical household informed Burney’s construction of a literary identity that balanced her professionally specialised labour with an aesthetic of domestic privacy. In Memoirs of Doctor Burney, Burney apparently collapses this separation by using her professionally specialised abilities in combination with her own intimate, domestic experience to construct a public version of her father, Charles Burney, as a polite, sociable man-of-letters rather than a musical professional. In Memoirs, Burney uses biography as a vehicle for the establishment of her own literary authority. In rewriting her father from artisanal musician to man-of-letters, she establishes an artistic-professional genealogy in which to site her own literary genius. Most significantly, Burney enacts final creative authority over her father, re-casting inheritance as evolution. Burney simultaneously invokes and obscures her family history in a biography of her father that is indistinguishable from the narrative of her own creative development.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © Duke University Press 2018.
Divisions: School of Humanities
Depositing User: Cassie Ulph
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2017 07:28
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2019 14:20

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