After her beloved sister Susan died on 6 January 1800, Frances Burney wrote several grieving letters, but her ordinarily voluminous journals and letters were markedly scant during the year 1800. Burney expressed her grief later and elsewhere, particularly in her little-known commonplace book, “Consolatory Extracts occasioned by the tragic death of her sister Susan Phillips in January 1800,” which reveals her protracted process of mourning through her appropriation of extracts from A Series of Letters Between Mrs. Elizabeth Carter and Miss Catherine Talbot, from the year 1741 to 1770 (1809) and its composition following her mastectomy in 1811. Many of the themes in “Consolatory Extracts” suggest that Burney’s memorializing of Susan is similarly borne out in her fictional works, particularly her unfinished tragedy Elberta (1785–1814) and her novel The Wanderer (1814).
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Hilary Havens; Memorializing Sorrow in Frances Burney’s “Consolatory Extracts”. Eighteenth-Century Life 1 September 2019; 43 (3): 23–40. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00982601-7725716
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