Leaving the secluded home of her guardian for the first time, beautiful Evelina Anville is captivated by her new surroundings in London's beau monde - and in particular by the handsome, chivalrous Lord Orville. But her enjoyment soon turns to mortification at the hands of her vulgar and capricious grandmother, and the rakish Sir Clement Willoughby, who torments the naive young woman with his unwanted advances. And while her aristocratic father refuses to acknowledge her legitimacy, Evelina can hold no hope of happiness with the man she loves. Published anonymously in 1778, Frances Burney's epistolary novel brought her instant fame when the secret of its authorship was revealed. With its ingenious combination of romance and satire, comedy and melodrama, Evelina is a sparkling depiction of the dangers and delights of fashionable society.
Frances Burney (1752 - 1840), the daughter of Dr Burney, spent her youth in the midst of the London society which included Dr Johnson, Edmund Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, the Blue Stocking Circle and many members of the aristocracy. When she published her first novel, Evelina, anonymously in 1778, the revelation of its authorship brought her immediate fame.
In 1786 she was appointed second keeper of the robes to Queen Charlotte and in 1793 married General d'Arblay, a French refugee in England. She and her husband were interned by Napoleon and lived in France from 1802 to 1812. Her other major novels are Cecilia (1782) and Camilla (1796). Like Evelina, they take as their theme the entry into the world of a young girl of beauty and understanding but no experience, and expose her to circumstances and events that develop her character. Her novels were admired by Jane Austen. She also wrote The Wanderer, published in 1814, but it was not a success.
In 1832 she edited the Memoirs of her father. She was also a prodigious writer of lively letters and journals; her Early Diary 1768 - 1778 includes sketches of Johnson, Garrick and many others, and her later Diary and Letters 1778 - 1840 gives a vivid account of her life at court.