Fanny Burney's letters bring $7k

Fanny Burney's writings as a playwright, novelist and diarist in the late 18th and early 19th century were held in high regard. Jane Austen was a noted fan, taking the title of her most famous work Pride and Prejudice from Burney's Cecilia.

Other notable fans included Dr Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Hester Thrale and David Garrick, whilst William Makepiece used her account of the Battle of Waterloo when writing Vanity Fair.

Last week, Bloomsbury Auctions offered a collection of 26 letters relating to Fanny Burney from the collection of John Gribbel, with some of the best examples following her marriage to Alexandre D'Arblay - who was called up for service by Napoleon.

Fanny Burney Letter
One of the royal letters to Burney, signed 'C'

The letters included a number of examples of communication with Royalty:

An autograph note signed "C." from Queen Charlotte to Mme. D'Arblay, 9 February 1813;

An autograph note signed "Augusta" from Princess Augustato Mme. D'Arblay, 6 November 1827;

An autograph letter signed from Princess Elizabeth to Mme. D'Arblay, 20 July 1829;

Two dateless autograph notes signed "Mary" from Princess Mary to Mme. D'Arblay, and

A 27 May (no year given) autograph note signed with initials, 28 September, and autograph letter signed "Sophy", 11 October from Princess Sophia to Mme. D'Arblay.

Bidders were impressed by the collection, which Gribbel had obviously put together carefully, and surpassed the estimate of $4,000-6,000, with the letters finally taken away for $7,000.

The letters probably gain some value over other memorabilia because of the importance of letters to Fanny Burney, who sometimes wrote novels in the form of letters exchanged between characters.


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