Fanny Burney and the Power of Place Pageant Wagon PublishingEvery writer needs a PLACE to write. A position established in a calling accepted. An environment formed to cultivate thought. An atmosphere prepared to incubate inspiration and produce a harvest of words well crafted.

Little Fanny Burney, daughter of famous church organist and music teacher, Dr. Charles Burney, made a fortuitous escape from the debilitating effects of a girl’s boarding school. At the age of eight in 1760, she remained in the company of her grieving father after the death of her beloved mother. There, while her father taught students and wrote a history of music, she enjoyed active days of mental stimulation reading in his library. Evenings found their London home bustling with a host of accomplished personages of the day, including luminary talents of music, art, and peers such as the painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds, actor David Garrick, and the brilliant Dr. Johnson.

Growing up in this inspiring cultural environment, frequent engagement with such individuals, proved to be a fertile soil, feeding Fanny’s natural wonder, curiosity, and hunger for learning. By 1768, at the age of sixteen, she’d begun her writing in earnest with a diary of her days and thoughts on a myriad of topics. She drafted her first words during a visit to St. Margaret’s Churchyard in King’s Lynn, the earliest of her childhood homes where she once passed happy days with her well-read mother. The power of place in writing and inspiration further fed this novelist’s literate lifestyle, as recounted with bubbling joy:

“I am now writing in the pleasantest place belonging to this house. It is called sometimes the ‘Look Out’ as ships are observed from hence, and at other times the Cabin. It is at the end of a long garden that runs along the house. I always spend the evening, sometimes all the afternoon, in this sweet cabin, except sometimes, when unusually thoughtful, I prefer the garden. I cannot express the pleasure I have in writing when I first see them, and how I alter or confirm myself in them.”   

I’m guest posting the lessons I’ve gleaned from an 18th century female novelist–when no such thing existed. fanny Burney learned the Power of Place: a position established, an environment formed, an atmosphere prepared.

You’ll want to know more about this and the trailblazing storyteller who inspired Jane Austen and the litany of women novelists of the 19th century and beyond. Because of her place in literary history, YOU have a place in literary history . . .

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