Image of Frances Burney, 1782 (painted by Edward Francesco Burney) The Burney Centre at McGill University
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McGill University
Department of English

The Burney Society

The Burney Society


  • History and Goals of The Burney Society
  • Membership
  • Officers and Patrons of The Burney Society
  • The Hemlow Prize in Burney Studies

    History and Goals of the Burney Society

    The Burney Society honours Frances Burney d'Arblay (1752-1840), a woman who recorded everything from Johnsonian wit to George III's fits, from Evelina's entrance into the world to Napoleon's last stand. Her acute observations about her family, friends, and 18th-century society show us how much, and how little, life and literature have changed in two centuries.

    Her works played an essential role in the development of the novel and made writing women respectable. Her four novels--Evelina, Cecilia, Camilla, and The Wanderer--influenced and inspired a generation of writers, led by Jane Austen, who repaid her predecessor with a tribute in Northanger Abbey. Burney's father suppressed all but one of her plays in her lifetime, but since the plays were first published as a collection in 1995, her ability as a playwright can now be appreciated. As we read her novels and diaries, we find ourselves drawn into her life, which spanned five reigns. We understand her, suffer with her (her account of a mastectomy without anaesthesia made medical history) and rejoice with her. Her powers of expression and observation make it seem as if she herself has stepped off the page and into the present.

    For all these reasons, The Burney Society was founded in New Orleans by Paula Stepankowsky, Lucy Magruder, and Dr. Jacqueline Reid-Walsh. Membership now numbers about 120 in Great Britain, the United States, Canada, and Australia. The purpose of the society is to promote the study and appreciation of Burney's works and of the life and times of her and her family.


    NEW: The CFP for the Burney Society's 2016 Conference can be found here.

             The Burney Society UK has a new website.


    Membership in the Burney Society is available for $30 (U.S.) annually in the United States and Canada, and £15 (student membership), 20 (single membership), or 25 (couples living at the same address) annually in Great Britain. The dues year runs from June 13 to June 13, in honour of Frances Burney d'Arblay's birthday. Membership includes subscriptions to The Burney Letter, the semi-annual newsletter of the society, and The Burney Journal, the society's annual literary journal.

    To request membership information, or to notify the society of a change in address:

    The United States and Canada:
    The Burney Society
    c/o Dr. Cheryl D. Clark
    Department of English
    Louisiana College, P.O. Box 606
    1140 College Drive
    Pineville, LA, USA 71359

    Great Britain:

    Deborah Jones
    15 Rosehip Way
    Bishops Cleeve 
    GL52 8WP

    Officers and Patrons of the Burney Society

    For a list of the Officers of the Burney Society UK, please visit their website.

    North American Officers

    Elaine Bander

    Vice President
    Stewart J. Cooke

    North American Secretary/Treasurer
    Roberta Brody

    Editor, The Burney Letter
    Lorna J. Clark

    Editors, The Burney Journal
    Stewart Cooke
    Marilyn Francus
    Alex Pitofsky

    Cheryl D. Clark

    North American Patrons

    Jan Fergus
    Juliet McMaster
    Peter Sabor
    Lars Troide

    United States
    Mary Margaret Benson
    Rachel Brownstein
    Margaret Anne Doody
    Conrad Harper
    Ruth Iglehart
    Ruth Perry

    The Hemlow Prize in Burney Studies

    The Burney Society invites submissions for the Hemlow Prize in Burney Studies, named in honour of the late Joyce Hemlow, Greenshields Professor of English at McGill University, whose biography of Frances Burney and edition of her journals and letters are among the foundational works of eighteenth-century literary scholarship.

    The Hemlow Prize will be awarded to the best essay written by a graduate student (registered within the last year) on any aspect of the life or writings of Frances Burney or members of the Burney Family. The essay, which can be up to 6,000 words, should make a substantial contribution to Burney scholarship. The judges will take into consideration the essay's originality, coherence, use of source material, awareness of other work in the field, and documentation. The winning essay will be considered for publication in the Burney Journal and the recipient will receive an award of US $250, as well as a year's membership in the Burney Society.

    The Hemlow Prize will be awarded in October of every year. Two copies of the essay (one appropriate for blind submission) should be sent, by email attachment, to the Chair of the Prize Committee, Dr. Ann Campbell, anncampbell[at]boisestate[dot]edu, or by mail to Dr. Ann Campbell, English Department, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise ID, 83725-1525. Submissions must be received by September 1 of that competition year.

    Download Hemlow Prize poster (PDF)

    [ Download Hemlow Prize poster (PDF) ]

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