On 13 June 1767, her 15th birthday, Fanny Burney made a bonfire of all her works, "with the sincere intention to extinguish for ever in their ashes her scribbling propensity". Fanny was genuinely worried that she might turn into an author, a fate incompatible - for a woman - with respectability. Her hope was in vain. Not only was she to write four novels ("Evelina", "Cecilia", "Camilla" and "The Wanderer"), but she also kept a voluminous diary for the next 70 years and was a prolific letter-writer. Daughter of the eminent music historian Dr Charles Burney; editor of his infamous Memoirs; friend of Sheridan, Garrick, Burke, Boswell and Johnson; second keeper of the robes to George III's Queen Charlotte; wife to a refugee French aristocrat; detained for ten years in revolutionary France; victim of a mastectomy without anaesthetic. Fanny Burney's life was as eventful as any novel. This text is the biography of Fanny Burney, one of the the first truly literary woman novelists in English, who exercised a profound influence on Jane Austen and whose own life, spanning the years 1752 to 1840, embraced the worlds of music, literature, politics, English Court life and the French Revolution.
Claire Harman's biography of Sylvia Townsend Warner was published in 1989 by Chatto (Minerva pb 1990) and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for 'a book of value from a writer of growing stature'. She was Co-ordinating Editor of PN Review from 1981 to 1984; has written short stories for radio; written for most of the major British literary papers; and edited Sylvia Townsend Warner's Diaries (1994) to wide acclaim. She has taught 19th and 20th century literature at Manchester University and now lives in Oxford with her daughter and two sons.