Happily Ever After

This is seventh in a series of guest posts written by “Sophie” of A Reasonable Quantity of Butter in celebration of Mansfield Park’s bicentennial.


Squashed into the epilogue of ‘Mansfield Park’ is the marriage of Edmund and Fanny. Although Fanny’s and Edmund’s romance is quite bland in comparison with the excitement in the rest of the novel, I think the couple had an excellent chance of achieving a “happily ever after”. They shared an attitude and philosophy of life as well as interests and pastimes. This, combined with mutual trust, could create a solid base for their life together.

Happily Ever AfterBeyond this, their marriage could strengthen both Edmund and Fanny individually. Because Fanny fully supported Edmund’s career, Edmund could gain confidence in his work. As Fanny was not accustomed to expensive gaieties and luxuries she would not weigh him down with discontent.

For Fanny, marriage to Edmund meant taking on a high position in a new community. As  the wife of a clergyman, her duties of hospitality and charity could help her develop confidence and authority, especially practiced among strangers.

I imagine Fanny and Edmund star-gazing, reading, visiting the poor, and raising children together. What reasons do you think would make them a happy couple?

Misguided Concealment

This is sixth in a series of guest posts written by “Sophie” of A Reasonable Quantity of Butter in celebration of Mansfield Park’s bicentennial.


In many novels, much of the drama revolves around a concealment. These passages are especially irksome because great harm often comes from the concealment, and it would be so simple for the informed character to say something and avert the catastrophe.

Often these concealments arise from some romantic fancy. In Far From the Madding Crowd, Gabriel Oak conceals Sergeant Troy’s former relationship from Bathsheba out of a mistaken sense of obligation to Fanny Robin. In Bleak House, Lady Dedlock conceals her past from her husband, even though speaking out would completely disarm her enemy, because she fears losing her husband’s esteem. Other characters feel that it would be wrong to speak ill of someone, even when not speaking injures another person—a person who really has a right to know.

Whereas I have come to expect misguided concealments in novels such as those by Dickens and Hardy, I was surprised to meet one in Mansfield Park.1 Happily, it has no effect on the outcome of the story, but it is still there!

Fanny Price keeps important information from Edmund. As Edmund’s only confidant, she knows that, although he is deeply in love with Mary Crawford, several things would keep him from proposing to her: Mary’s love of money, love of prestige, and contempt for Edmund’s profession. In fact, these did at one point decide Edmund against marrying her. After his ordination, he purposely stayed away from Mansfield to avoid seeing Mary, intending to return only after she left.

Fanny is uncertain as to how much Mary’s fondness for Edmund may have overcome her worldly notions, and she must, in any case, leave Edmund to his own judgment. What good would it do to convey doubts and suspicions to a mind accustomed to excusing them? And what right had she to do so—would it not be only indulging her own envy?

But while in Portsmouth, Fanny receives confirmation of her fears in writing from Mary.2 There, in Mary’s own handwriting, is evidence that she loves money and position in society to the point of wishing Edmund’s brother dead, and looks forward to Edmund’s profession being concealed as a past disgrace!

Despite any attending awkwardness, I think Fanny should have forwarded Mary’s letter to Edmund. He had a right to know.


1There is a misguided concealment in Emma, which is crucial to the plot, but Austen handles it much differently than the other authors mentioned. Also, in Pride and Prejudice, Jane and Elizabeth choose not to publish Wickham’s true character because he is leaving soon.

2“Poor young man! If he is to die, there will be two poor young men less in the world; and with a fearless face and bold voice would I say to any one, that wealth and consequence could fall into no hands more deserving of them. It was a foolish precipitation last Christmas [Edmund’s ordination], but the evil of a few days may be blotted out in part. Varnish and gilding hide many stains. It will be but the loss of the Esquire after his name. With real affection, Fanny, like mine, more might be overlooked.”—Mansfield Park, Chapter XLV

Fanny Was Right

This is third in a series of guest posts written by “Sophie” of A Reasonable Quantity of Butter in celebration of Mansfield Park’s bicentennial.


“[Sir Thomas’s] displeasure against herself she trusted . . . would now be done away. She should be justified. Mr. Crawford would have fully acquitted her conduct in refusing him”1

To Sir Thomas, Henry’s and Maria’s elopement vindicated Fanny’s refusal. In this, Sir Thomas’s judgment was shallow. Fanny did not reject Henry because she foresaw scandal and disgrace. Henry did not need to be wicked enough to run off with someone else’s wife in order to be a bad choice for Fanny. Her refusal was formed on standards which Sir Thomas did not share and events of which he was not aware. These standards needed no later proof to validate them.

26th copyAt the time of Henry’s proposal, Fanny’s knowledge of him was overwhelmingly bad. At almost every meeting, Henry flirted and trifled with an engaged woman—a circumstance which Sir Thomas never learned of. Henry also spoke flippantly about matters which should have commanded his respect. When Fanny said, “I cannot approve his character. . . . I am persuaded that he does not think, as he ought, on serious subjects”2 she had every reason to think so. It would have been foolish to entrust herself, and any children she might have, to such a man, no matter how rich or charming he was.

There was also the fact that Fanny did not love Henry. Among the characters, Sir Thomas alone would disagree that it is wrong to marry someone you do not love. When Edmund tells Fanny, “You did not love him; nothing could have justified your accepting him”3, he is only saying what most people would believe. Even worldly-minded Mary and Henry censure any woman who, “would ever give her hand without her heart.”4 Marrying without love is a wrong not only against yourself, but also against the one you marry.5 To marry Henry when she was in love with another would have been doing him a double wrong.6

Not only did Fanny not love Henry, she did not even like him. His society was irksome to her—both as a suitor and as a friend.“His attentions were always—what I did not like”7 & “his spirits often oppress me”.8 This is the only reason for rejecting Henry that Fanny felt comfortable telling her uncle. But Sir Thomas did not understand the nature of liking: “There is something in this which my comprehension does not reach.”9,10

Fanny’s rejection of Henry is not evidence that she was a prig or a prophet. Rather, it shows that she had common sense and common justice. No matter how imperfect her knowledge of him was, or how he may have changed afterward, Fanny was right to refuse Henry.


1Mansfield Park, ch. 47

2Ibid., ch. 35

3Ibid., ch. 35

4Ibid., ch. 5

5Austen censures Rushworth for marrying a woman who he knows doesn’t love him:

“[Maria] had despised him, and loved another; and he had been very much aware that it was so. The indignities of stupidity, and the disappointments of selfish passion, can excite little pity. His punishment followed his conduct,” ch. 48

6Austen’s characters do not marry out of a silly sense of duty, especially when their hearts are otherwise engaged (not like Laura Fairly in The Woman in White).

7Mansfield Park, ch. 32

8Ibid., ch. 35

9His speech continues, “Here is a young man wishing to pay his addresses to you, with everything to recommend him: not merely situation in life, fortune, and character, but with more than common agreeableness, with address and conversation pleasing to everybody. And he is not an acquaintance of to-day; you have now known him some time.”, ch. 32

10I am reminded of Aunt Stanbury in He Knew He Was Right: “I never heard of such a thing in my life. Not love him! And why shouldn’t you love him? He’s a gentleman. Everybody respects him. He’ll have plenty to make you comfortable all your life!”

Reasons I like Fanny Price

“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” — I Peter 3:3-4

Though Jane Austen’s Fanny Price often gets a bad rap, she has her admirers. I like Fanny for many reasons. She is opinionated, with a good head on her shoulders. However, she is also gentle, kind, and considerate, and has the grace to keep her opinions to herself unless there is an appropriate occasion to air them. She is self-controlled.

%22Lilac%22 Edmund Blair Leighton 1901Not only is Fanny opinionated, she has correct opinions. She notices what is going on between Henry Crawford and the Miss Bertrams and sees clearly where almost no one else around her does. She later tells Miss Crawford, “I was quiet, but I was not blind.” She tells her, “I cannot think well of a man who sports with any woman’s feelings” (Ch. 36). She sees and disapproves of Miss Crawford’s flippancy. She condemns Edmund’s weakness in joining the play. When Henry Crawford tries to reminisce with her about the play, she firmly tells him her mind on the subject. She is no pushover — she stands firm despite immense pressure over the play business and Henry Crawford’s proposals. Still, she is respectful of others. She listens to Edmund and others. She is willing to learn. But when she discerns that anyone (including Edmund) is wrong, she sticks with her own convictions.

Fanny is smart. She likes to read — travels, poetry, history, &c. — and discuss and quote what she reads. She is very affectionate. She loves her brother William deeply. She respects her sister Susan and hopes to be of use to her, endeavoring to “exercise for her advantage the juster notions of what was due to everybody, and what would be wisest for herself, which her own more favoured education had fixed in her” (Ch. 40). And, of course, she loves Edmund for all of his kindnesses to her. She is grateful. Even in a situation where she could easily have not seen much to be grateful for, instead of becoming bitter, she is thankful for the kindnesses that she is shown and for the generosity shown to her family. Even despite the fact that he tries to use his service to William to manipulate Fanny, she is still grateful to Mr. Crawford for William’s promotion — “he had been conferring an obligation, which no want of delicacy on his part could make a trifle to her” (Ch. 31). She is trustworthy. Henry Crawford recognizes in her “a steadiness and regularity of conduct, such a high notion of honour, and such an observance of decorum as might warrant any man in the fullest dependence on her faith and integrity” (Ch. 30). “I could so wholly and absolutely confide in her,” he tells his sister.

She is industrious. Even thought she is not strong, Fanny stays busy and works hard. She gardens and runs errands, sometimes walking beyond her strength. She is a companion to her lazy aunt, reading to her and helping her with her “work”. She is very patient. She is charitable, working to help the poor. She sews. During the play, she is kept busy sewing costumes and helping others learn their lines. She spends time studying. She regularly corresponds with her brother William. She takes what exercise she can (mostly horseback riding) as regularly as she can.

I don’t think Fanny is perfect. She is too shy. She herself recognizes that where her sister Susan tries to help, she would have just gone and cried. Despite Susan’s faults of manner, she “was only acting on the same truths, and pursuing the same system, which [Fanny’s] own judgment acknowledged, but which her more supine and yielding temper would have shrunk from asserting” (Ch. 40). Fanny needed more confidence. (On the other hand, she is so meek that sometimes she appears even more shy than she really is.) She is, perhaps, too passive.

Despite her faults, however, Fanny Price is a young woman of quiet strength. She is gentle, strong, intelligent, graceful, and refined — a type of woman that I greatly admire.


Painting “Lilac” by Edmund Blair Leighton (1852-1922).

Fairly Caught

“I am quite determined to marry Fanny Price. … I am fairly caught. You know with what idle designs I began; but this is the end of them. I have, I flatter myself, made no inconsiderable progress in her affections; but my own are entirely fixed.” (Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, Ch. XXX)

Many people think that it is unnatural for Henry Crawford to fall in love with Fanny Price. I find Fanny to be a very lovable girl, so it is not a stretch for me to think of a charming man falling in love with her. Furthermore, I think that it was natural under the circumstances for Henry to fall in love with her, and I shall attempt to explain why.

Fanny is not as immediately attractive as others of Jane Austen’s heroines, but, when you get to know her, she has a quiet charm of her own. Henry only intended to flirt with “Returning to her seat to finish a note” Chap XXX H. M. BrockFanny, not to fall in love with her. His attraction was simply boredom (the Bertram sisters weren’t around anymore for him to flirt with) and the desire to conquer. He tells his sister, “Her looks say, ‘I will not like you, I am determined not to like you’; and I say she shall.” (Ch. XXIV). In the process of wooing her, however, he gets to know her better and falls in love with her. He discovers her sweetness, her intelligence, her high sense of honor — and no one has denied that she is a pretty girl. He feels that he can depend on her “faith and integrity”. “Her temper he had good reason to depend on and to praise. He had often seen it tried. … Her affections were evidently strong. To see her with her brother! What could more delightfully prove that the warmth of her heart was equal to its gentleness? What could be more encouraging to a man who had her love in view?” (Ch. XXX).

Fanny’s attractions increased—increased twofold; for the sensibility which beautified her complexion and illumined her countenance was an attraction in itself. He was no longer in doubt of the capabilities of her heart. She had feeling, genuine feeling. It would be something to be loved by such a girl, to excite the first ardours of her young unsophisticated mind! She interested him more than he had foreseen. A fortnight was not enough. His stay became indefinite. (Ch. XXIV)

Unlike the other girls Henry has known, who were all ready to flirt with him, he must earn Fanny’s respect and regard. Henry expressed his feelings toward marriage earlier in the novel, “I am of a cautious temper, and unwilling to risk my happiness in a hurry.” He is willing to flirt with any attractive girl, but unwilling to commit his happiness to her. Fanny is different. “I could so wholly and absolutely confide in her,” said he; “and that is what I want.” (Ch. XXX). Fanny’s resistance presents him with a challenge, which stimulates him, making “her affection appear of greater consequence because it was withheld, and determined him to have the glory, as well as the felicity, of forcing her to love him” (Ch. XXXIII).

Love such as his, in a man like himself, must with perseverance secure a return, and at no great distance; and he had so much delight in the idea of obliging her to love him in a very short time, that her not loving him now was scarcely regretted. A little difficulty to be overcome was no evil to Henry Crawford. He rather derived spirits from it. He had been apt to gain hearts too easily. His situation was new and animating. (Ch. XXXIII)

I think also that Henry liked the idea of marrying a “damsel in distress”, so to speak, — of “rescuing” her and raising her up. He tells his sister, “[Maria and Julia Bertram] will now “He….left them only at the door” Chap XLI H. M. Brocksee their cousin treated as she ought to be, and I wish they may be heartily ashamed of their own abominable neglect and unkindness. … Yes, Mary, my Fanny will feel a difference indeed: a daily, hourly difference, in the behaviour of every being who approaches her; and it will be the completion of my happiness to know that I am the doer of it, that I am the person to give the consequence so justly her due. Now she is dependent, helpless, friendless, neglected, forgotten. … What can Sir Thomas and Edmund together do, what do they do for her happiness, comfort, honour, and dignity in the world, to what I shall do?” (Ch. XXX, bold emphasis mine)

I think that Fanny is not the kind of woman that Henry would have imagined marrying, or even as likely to attract him, but, once he got to know her better, he could see her charm and goodness. Probably if the Bertram sisters had not left, he would never have noticed Fanny. His initial attraction to Fanny can be expressed in his words, “Why did she draw back and look so grave at me? I could hardly get her to speak. I never was so long in company with a girl in my life, trying to entertain her, and succeed so ill! Never met with a girl who looked so grave on me! I must try to get the better of this.” (Ch. XXIV). He was used to gaining hearts too easily. Her attraction was simply that she did not care for him. So, Henry set about a flirtation with her, and then fell in love.

In his book A Fine Brush on Ivory, Richard Jenkyns puts it like this:

[I]tis perhaps worth noting that both the men in Fanny’s life, Henry and Edmund, take quite a while to see [Fanny] as an object of desire. … Fanny Price takes some getting to know. For what it is worth, my own experience has been that the longer one lives with Mansfield Park, the more lovable she becomes. …

Some critics have found it hard to believe that a lively, worldly man like Henry Crawford could ever have fallen for a good little mouse like Fanny, but on the contrary, he is exactly the type of man who marries his secretary. It is significant that he is said to be plain: he needs to prove to himself his power of conquest. Henry is vain: he wants power and he wants admiration. He knows that Fanny is pretty and gentle, but he also comes to realize that she is passionate: he has seen this from the warmth and strength of her love for her brother. … But he also wants adoration. His sister sees it at once: ‘I approve your choice from my soul, and foresee your happiness as heartily as I wish and desire it. You will have a sweet little wife; all gratitude and devotion.’ … [G]enuine love and affection may be inextricably bound up with a gentle vanity and the gratification of self-esteem. … And the irony in Henry Crawford’s case is that he has misread: Fanny, who is a great deal meeker than Catherine [Morland of Northanger Abbey], is not so simple and artless: she is a tough, severe judge.1

If Henry had met Fanny in London, I doubt he would ever have noticed her. Even in Mansfield, he overlooks her until Maria and Julia are gone, and she is the only young woman left for him to notice. (As his sister said, “The truth is, that she was the only girl in company for you to notice, and you must have a somebody.” — Ch. XXIV) But, under the circumstances, he does notice her. He finds her to be pretty, gentle, passionate, trustworthy, and sweet. The idea of gaining her affections and “rescuing” her, so to speak, attracts him. So, was it natural for Henry to truly fall in love with Fanny? I think so.


1 A Fine Brush on Ivory, by Richard Jenkyns (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 109, 135-136).

Illustrations: “Returning to her seat to finish a note” (Chap XXX) and “He….left them only at the door” (Chap XLI), by H.M. Brock.

Brother and Sister

“You have shewn that you can dance, and you know we are not really so much brother and sister as to make it at all improper.”

“Brother and sister! no, indeed.”

— from Emma, by Jane Austen, Volume III, Chapter II.

When Mrs. Norris comes up with the idea to take her niece, young Fanny Price, in, Sir Thomas debates and hesitates. “He thought of his own four children, of his two sons, of cousins in love, etc.;—but no sooner had he deliberately begun to state his objections, than Mrs. Norris interrupted him with a reply to them all” (Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, Chapter I).

“You are thinking of your sons—but do not you know that, of all things upon earth, that is the least likely to happen, brought up as they would be, always together like brothers and sisters? It is morally impossible. I never knew an instance of it. It is, in fact, the only sure way of providing against the connexion. Suppose her a pretty girl, and seen by Tom or Edmund for the first time seven years hence, and I dare say there would be mischief. The very idea of her having been suffered to grow up at a distance from us all in poverty and neglect, would be enough to make either of the dear, sweet-tempered boys in love with her. But breed her up with them from this time, and suppose her even to have the beauty of an angel, and she will never be more to either than a sister.” (Ch. I)

Sir Thomas agrees to the plan, stressing, however, that it ought not to be “lightly engaged in”. When Fanny arrives, Mrs. Norris undertakes “to make her remember that she is not a Miss Bertram” and that “they cannot be equals”. So well does she accomplish this, that very few in the family ever forget that Fanny is the poor relation — including Fanny herself. “There was no positive ill-nature in Maria or Julia; and though Fanny was often mortified by their treatment of her, she thought too lowly of her own claims to feel injured by it.” (Ch. II).

She is obviously considered a dependent. Mrs. Norris says of her publicly, “I shall think her a very obstinate, ungrateful girl, if she does not do what her aunt and cousins wish her—very ungrateful, indeed, considering who and what she is.” (Ch. XV). On another occasion, Mrs. Norris tells Fanny, “The nonsense and folly of people’s stepping out of their rank and trying to appear above themselves, makes me think it right to give you a hint, Fanny, now that you are going into company without any of us; and I do beseech and entreat you not to be putting yourself forward, and talking and giving your opinion as if you were one of your cousins—as if you were dear Mrs. Rushworth or Julia. That will never do, believe me. Remember, wherever you are, you must be the lowest and last” (Ch. XXIII). That even strangers see that she is not considered one of the family, is shown by what Mr. Crawford says of her, “Now she is dependent, helpless, friendless, neglected, forgotten.” (Ch. XXX).

As Fanny is not brought up as a sister to her cousins, all of Mrs. Norris’s assurances come to naught. Fanny’s having been suffered to grow up under mistreatment and neglect within his own family, was enough to make at least one of the “dear, sweet-tempered boys” care for her. In the end, Sir Thomas’s son Edmund falls in love with her.

“With such a regard for her, indeed, as his had long been, a regard founded on the most endearing claims of innocence and helplessness, and completed by every recommendation of growing worth, what could be more natural than the change? Loving, guiding, protecting her, as he had been doing ever since her being ten years old, her mind in so great a degree formed by his care, and her comfort depending on his kindness, an object to him of such close and peculiar interest, dearer by all his own importance with her than any one else at Mansfield, what was there now to add, but that he should learn to prefer soft light eyes to sparkling dark ones.” (Ch. XLVIII)

By this time, however, Sir Thomas is “sick of ambitious and mercenary connexions, prizing more and more the sterling good of principle and temper, and chiefly anxious to bind by the strongest securities all that remained to him of domestic felicity” (Ch. XLVIII). He joyfully consents to the marriage of his son and Fanny.

“With so much true merit and true love, and no want of fortune and friends, the happiness of the married cousins must appear as secure as earthly happiness can be. Equally formed for domestic life, and attached to country pleasures, their home was the home of affection and comfort” (Ch. XLVIII).

Fanny Hall of Fame: Part III

Fanny Price’s name used to be quite common. According to Grace Hamlin in her book The Penguin Classic Baby Name Book, the name “was a favorite name among the Victorians, and appears often enough in literature to suggest that it was a neutral, nondescript name for a well-educated woman.” 1 Jane Austen was related to several people with the name Fanny (and also Francis). It is a fairly common name in literature, and quite a few historical people have borne the name. For my own amusement (and inspired by this list on Enchanted Serenity), I have collected some information about various of these people here. Because there are so many of them, I have divided them into separate posts. So, without further ado, here is part III of my Fanny Hall of Fame:

Historical persons bearing the name Fanny, or Frances

Frances (Fanny) Brawne – (August 9, 1800 – December 4, 1865) the love interest of the poet John Keats (October 31, 1795 – February 23, 1821). Fanny and Keats first met in October 1818 and became officially engaged in October 1819. Their relationship was a tempestuous one, but some of Keats’s best poetry was written in 1819, after he met Fanny Brawne, including “The Eve of St. Agnes”, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”, “Lamia”, and his six great odes, “Ode to Psyche”, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, “Ode on Indolence”, “Ode on Melancholy”, “Ode to a Nightingale”, and “To Autumn”.  Fanny’s engagement to John Keats was ended by his death of tuberculosis in February 1821. The last poem that Keats ever wrote was an ode, “To Fanny”. Here is the second stanza:

Ah! dearest love, sweet home of all my fears, 
     And hopes, and joys, and panting miseries,—
To-night, if I may guess, thy beauty wears 
          A smile of such delight, 
          As brilliant and as bright, 
     As when with ravished, aching, vassal eyes, 
          Lost in soft amaze, 
          I gaze, I gaze!

In his book Darkling I Listen: The Last Days and Death of John Keats, John Evangelist Walsh (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999) notes that, even in the midst of writing serious poetry, “Keats frequently interrupted himself to rhapsodize about Fanny in verse”2 — writing, among other things, his sonnet “Bright Star”. Walsh states that, besides the “Ode to Fanny”, “it is impossible to date precisely any of the verse Keats wrote to and about Fanny. … The truth is, everything Keats wrote after meeting Fanny can without too much strain be tied to his feelings for her, at least in part, …”3

John Keats’s mother was also named Frances, and Keats had a sister Frances, whom Fanny Brawne corresponded with during the time that Keats was dying in Rome and after his death. After Keats’s death, Fanny Brawne went into mourning. She eventually married Louis Lindon on June 15, 1833. Some accounts state that Fanny wore a widow’s cap and mourning and wandered the Heath late into the night after Keats’s death, but these are probably not reliable. It is also unlikely that, as has been said by some, that she wore the ring that Keats gave her the rest of her life. She did keep the ring, but, as she always concealed her relationship with him from her husband, she probably would not have worn it openly. John Keats was not the only person in Fanny’s life to die of consumption, or tuberculosis. Fanny’s father died of the disease in 1810, before she ever met the poet, and, in 1828, several years after Keats’s death, Fanny’s brother Samuel died of the same disease. In Keats’s family, his mother and his brother Tom both died of consumption — his mother in 1810 (only slightly before Fanny’s father died) and his brother in 1818. The love story of John Keats and Fanny Brawne was made into a film, Bright Star (2009), with Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne.

Fanny Brawne on Wikipedia and English History. ‘Bright Star’ (the movie) on Wikipedia. John Keats on Wikipedia.

Frances (Fanny) Burney – (June 13, 1752 – January 6, 1840) an English novelist. She wrote the novels Evelina, Cecilia, Camilla, and The Wanderer. Cecilia and Camilla, along with Maria Edgeworth’s novel Belinda, are mentioned in Jane Austen’s famous defense of the novel.

Yes, novels; for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel-writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding—joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens—there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. “I am no novel-reader—I seldom look into novels—Do not imagine that I often read novels—It is really very well for a novel.” Such is the common cant. “And what are you reading, Miss—?” “Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language. (Northanger Abbey, Chapter V).

Evelina, Fanny Burney’s first novel, was a success, and Dr. Johnson, among others, praised it. It is thought that the title for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice may have been taken from a passage in Fanny Burney’s second novel, Cecilia:

“The whole of this unfortunate business,” said Dr Lyster, “has been the result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE. Your uncle, the Dean, began it, by his arbitrary will, as if an ordinance of his own could arrest the course of nature! and as if he had power to keep alive, by the loan of a name, a family in the male branch already extinct. Your father, Mr Mortimer, continued it with the same self-partiality, preferring the wretched gratification of tickling his ear with a favourite sound, to the solid happiness of his son with a rich and deserving wife. Yet this, however, remember; if to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you will also owe their termination: for all that I could say to Mr Delvile, either of reasoning or entreaty,—and I said all I could suggest, and I suggested all a man need wish to hear,—was totally thrown away, till I pointed out to him his own disgrace, in having a daughter-in-law immured in these mean lodgings! (Book X, Chapter X).

In chapter 20 of Persuasion, Anne Elliot compares herself, or, rather, does not compare herself with “the inimitable Miss Larolles”, characters from Cecilia. Camilla is mentioned in Jane Austen’s unfinished Sanditon, and Fanny Burney’s novels are occasionally mentioned in Jane Austen’s letters. Fanny Burney also wrote plays and a couple of works of non-fiction, including Memoirs of Doctor Burney, a memoir of her father.

Fanny Burney on Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg. Literary Allusions in Jane Austen’s writings.

Frances Cleveland (July 21, 1864 – October 29, 1947) – the wife of Grover Cleveland (the only president of the United States to serve two non-consecutive terms). She was the youngest first lady (she was 21 when she married Grover Cleveland on June 2, 1886) and also the first to be married in the White House. Grover Cleveland was 27 years older than Frances, the second largest age gap of any Presidential couple. She also became the first presidential widow (her husband died in 1908) to remarry when she married Thomas J. Preston, Jr. on February 10, 1913. Frances Clara Folsom was born in Buffalo, New York. Her name was originally Frank, but she later changed it to Frances. She had five children by her first husband: Ruth, Esther, Marion, Richard Folsom, and Francis Grover. Like her husband, Mrs. Cleveland was opposed to women’s suffrage. She, rather, supported “an exalted role for women in the home”.4

Frances Cleveland on Wikipedia.

Fanny Crosby (March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915) – a hymnwriter. Frances Jane Crosby was born in New York. While still an infant, she developed inflammation of the eyes due to an illness. Owing to a mistaken treatment, she became blind. Fanny became a student at the New York Institute for the Blind, and later became a teacher there. “In 1843, she joined a group of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. arguing for support of education for the blind.”5 She married fellow teacher Alexander van Alstyne, who was also blind, in 1858. They had one daughter, also named Frances, who died in infancy. Fanny Crosby wrote various poetry from the age of eight years old, but she is mostly remembered for her hymns, of which she wrote over 8,000 under a variety of pseudonyms. Some of her best known hymns are ‘All the Way My Savior Lead Me’, ‘Blessed Assurance’, ‘Christ, the Lord, Is Risen Today’, ‘He Hideth My Soul’, ‘My Savior First of All’, ‘Praise Him, Praise Him’, ‘Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It!’, ‘Rescue the Perishing’, and ‘To God Be the Glory’.

There are other hymnwriters with the name Fanny: Frances Eugenia Bolton (also known as Fannie Bolton—1859-1926—she wrote ‘Not I, but Christ’ and others), Frances Elizabeth Cox (1812-1897—she wrote ‘Jesus Lives!’), Fannie Chadwick (late 19th century—she wrote ‘Christian Soldier, Wake’ and others), Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879—she wrote ‘Like a River Glorious’, ‘Take My Life and Let It Be’, ‘Who Is on the Lord’s Side?’, and many others), Jane Francesca Elgee Wilde (Lady Wilde—1821-1896—she translated ‘Jesus, Refuge of the Weary’), and many others.

Fanny Crosby on Wikipedia and Hymntime.

Fanny Kemble (November 27, 1809 – January 15, 1893) – a British actess and author. Her full name was Frances Anne Kemble. She was the daughter of actor Charles Kemble. She made her first appearance on stage on October 26, 1829 as Juliet. Beginning in 1832, she travelled with her father in the United States. There she met Pierce Butler. She married him in 1834. After he inherited plantations from his grandfather, he and Fanny went there in 1838-39. Fanny was shocked by the treatment of the slaves. Eventually, largely due to increasing tension over the slavery issue, Fanny left her husband, returning to the theatre. They were divorced in 1849. Pierce Butler was given custody of his two daughters, Sarah and Frances, but Fanny was allowed to spend two months a year with them and received $1,500 a year in alimony. Neither Pierce nor Fanny remarried. Fanny published several works of anti-slaverly literature, including Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839. She also published some plays and poetry. Fanny had much success giving Shakespearian readings in the United States. Her family was divided on the issue of the War for Southern Independence (1861-1865). Fanny and her daughter Sarah were pro-North, while Pierce and her daughter Frances were pro-South. In 1877, Fanny returned permantly to England. There she became a friend of author Henry James. Fanny died in London.

Fanny Kemble on Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, Friends of Jane, PBS, and Philadelphia Reflections.

Fanny Cäcilie Mendelssohn (November 14, 1805 – May 14, 1847) – a German pianist and composer. She was named after her aunt Fanny von Arnstein, a music lover and patroness of a well-known salon. Fanny Mendelssohn was the sister of composer Felix Mendelssohn. Fanny married the painter Wilhelm Hensel in 1829. They had one child, Sebastian Ludwig Felix Hensel. Hensel was supportive of her composing, but was himself completely unmusical. Fanny died of a stroke. Her brother Felix composed his String Quartet No. 6 in F minor in her memory, two months before his death (he died only six months after Fanny). Fanny composed 466 pieces of music, some of which were originally published under Felix’s name. One of her songs, “Italien” (Italy), was said to be a favorite of Queen Victoria’s — although the queen thought that it was composed by Felix.

On Wikipedia: Fanny Mendelssohn, Fanny von Arnstein, Felix Mendelssohn, William Hensel, String Quartet No. 6, the Mendelssohn family, and a List of compositions by Fanny Mendelssohn. Fanny (Mendelssohn) Hensel on the International Music Score Library Project. A website devoted to Fanny Hensel and an encyclopedia entry on her.

Frances Trollope (March 10, 1780 – October 6, 1863) – an English novelist and mother of novelist Anthony Trollope (author of the well-known Chronicles of Barsetshire, the Palliser novels, and The Way We Live Now). She was born Frances Milton in Stapleton, Bristol. In 1809 she married Thomas Anthony Trollope. Her eldest son, Thomas Adolphus Trollope, was also an author, writing fiction, history, and travel books. In 1827, she and her family moved to an “utopian community” in America founded by Fanny Wright. The community failed, and the Trollopes moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. They eventually returned to England, where, in 1832, Frances Trollope published Domestic Manners of the Americans, an unflattering view of her travels in America. She went on to write several other travel books. She also published several novels of social protest, Michael Armstrong: Factory Boy (the first industrial novel to be published in Britain), Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw (the first anti-slavery novel), and The Vicar of Wrexhill (a novel dealing with corruption in the church). “Possibly her greatest work is the Widow Barnaby trilogy”.6 The title character of the first novel, The Widow Barnaby, according to William Rose Benét’s The Reader’s Encyclopedia, “is a vulgar, pretentious husband-hunter, wholly without principle. She marries a degenerate cleryman in the sequel”.7 In all, Frances Trollope wrote over 100 volumes. She died in Florence, Italy.

On Wikipedia: Frances Trollope, Anthony Trollope, and Fanny Wright. Frances Trollope on Project Gutenberg and information on her novel Michael Armstrong.



1 Grace Hamlin, The Penguin Classic Baby Name Book: 2,000 Names from the World’s Great Literature (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 2001), pp. 312-13.

2 John Evangelist Walsh, Darkling I Listen: The Last Days and Death of John Keats (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), Ch. 2, p. 34.

3 Ibid., Notes and Sources, pp. 170-71.

4 Frank. Suny Press, n.d. <http://www.sunypress.edu/p-4835-frank.aspx&gt;

5 Fanny Crosby. Wikipedia, 8 August 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_Crosby&gt;

6 Frances Trollope. Wikipedia, 23 August 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Trollope&gt;

7 William Rose Benét, The Reader’s Encyclopedia (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1969), pp. 1027, 1089.