Frances (Fanny) Burney (1752-1840) was an English novelist, playwright and diarist. She was self-educated and began writing at the age of ten, publishing four novels – Evelina, Cecilia, Camilla and The Wanderer - , eight plays, one biography and twenty volumes of letters and diaries. During her lifetime her work was very popular – the novels satirise the English aristocracy and were admired for their intelligent observations, comic wit and questioning of more serious issues such as gender roles. After her death, however, she was regarded primarily as a diarist – her lifetime’s journals provide a fascinating historical account. In more recent times, her novels and plays have been more seriously studied again. More information at The Burney Society.
Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) was an Irish novelist and writer of children’s books. Highly educated, she wrote ten novels, numerous short stories, plays and realist children’s tales, as well as volumes of essays and academic writing on education, social issues, politics and religion. She managed her father’s estate in Ireland for most of her life and kept up a correspondence with learned men, as well as mixing with the Anglo-Irish gentry. In her lifetime, she was a huge commercial success and regarded as the most successful British female novelist after Jane Austen.
Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825) was a celebrated English poet, children’s author, essayist, critic and editor. She taught at the Palgrave Academy and was unique for her time in being a professional female writer – her essays on politics, education and social issues influenced many other women writers as well as society as a whole. Her first book of poems was published in 1773 and was an immediate success, and her fame continued until 1812 when her poem Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, highly critical of Britain’s role in the Napoleonic wars, provoked a public outcry and ended her career. Despite having helped to found the Romantic movement, many poets also turned against her and she was disregarded until the late 20th century when feminist literary criticism restored interest in her work.