A work by turns hilarious and grim, Evelina tells the story of a young woman’s education in the ways of the world, vividly rendering life in eighteenth-century England. Raised by a pastor after her mother died and her father abandoned her, Evelina leaves the seclusion of the country for her first season out, encounters all manner of people–from prospective husbands to rakes to vulgar relatives–and endures all manner of trials before she achieves her final triumph.
“Before Evelina,” W. D. Howells proclaimed, “the heart of girlhood had never been so fully opened in literature.” Samuel Johnson called Burney “a real wonder” and Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote, “We owe to [Burney], not only Evelina, Cecilia, and Camilla, but also Mansfield Park and The Absentee.”
About Fanny Burney
Elizabeth Kowaleski Wallace is an associate professor of English at Boston College and author of Consuming Subjects: Women, Shopping, and Business in the Eighteenth Century.