Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World

Evelina by Fanny Burney - 1779 VersionSetting

Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World is set between London in the mid 18th Century and Hotwells a resort town, now part of Southern Bristol in the county of Avon.

Plot

One of the original Romantic Comedies, Evelina is a tour de force of humour, style and etiquette.

Evelina is Fanny Burney’s first novel, written in epistolary form – that is in a series of letters exchanged between the characters – giving us a unique multi-first-person narrative. The 18th Century is brilliantly evoked in very visual prose that follows the coming of age of Miss Evelina Anville, the main character and voice in the book. Evelina learns to steer her way through the complex social structures of 18th Century English society.

The novel plays with ideas of sentimentality and early romanticism with lashings of satire and humour. It is a book that predates and predicts the novels of Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth amongst others.

 

Characters

Miss Evelina Anville
Reverend Arthur Villars
Sir Clement Willoughby
Lord Orville
Captain Mirvan
Mrs. Mirvan
Miss Maria Mirvan
Madame Duval
M. Dubois
The Branghtons
Mr. Macartney
Lord Merton
Mr. Lovel

 

First Published by Thomas Lowndes in English in the United Kingdom in 1778. Originally published anonymously until the author was outed by a poem written by the poet and artist George Huddersford called ‘Warley, A Satire’ (also 1778). Fanny Burney refered to this as ‘a vile poem’.