Frances Burney’s A Busy Day; or, an Arrival from India (1800-1802) and the Family Business




Frances Burney, eighteenth-century, theatre studies, gender studies, English literature


Frances Burney (1752-1840) became one of the most famous eighteenth-century English novelists after the publication of her first work Evelina (1778), which was followed by other successful novels that made her a household name in Britain. Though Burney was always very attracted by the stage and there is a close relationship between her narrative and dramatic production, her comedies and tragedies have been considerably less explored and celebrated by eighteenth-century scholars and feminism. This article examines Burney’s comedy A Busy Day; or, an Arrival from India (1800-1802), which was never performed on stage during her lifetime and was one of the author’s last compositions paving the way for her harsh social criticism in The Wanderer (1814). Like all of Burney’s works, A Busy Day contains a good deal of satire and a provoking view of the domestic ideology, colonialism and the economic interests of the family at the turn of the nineteenth century. Burney introduces an insightful analysis of vulgarity and prejudice against the middle class. By drawing on the work of several Burney scholars, gender and theatre studies, I show how gender and colonialism are interrelated in A Busy Day, which showcases an evolution from Burney’s first heroine in Evelina to a more mature woman that would continue up to The Wanderer and it turns out to be Burney’s fiercest dramatic criticism against bias based on class, race and sex.


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How to Cite

Fernández, Carmen María. 2024. “Frances Burney’s A Busy Day; Or, an Arrival from India (1800-1802) and the Family Business”. Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina De Estudios Ingleses, no. 40 (January):119-36.