Between a Pastoral and Melodrama: Frances Burney and the Romantic Stage

Fran Saggini

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

Abstract / Description of output

It is well known that the neglect of the dramatic works composed by Frances Burney (1752-1840) was largely caused by the unwavering opposition put up by her father, the famed musicologist Charles Burney, who shared the strong anti-theatrical prejudice that characterized the century as a whole. Paradoxically, this critical disregard has partly continued even after the watershed publication of Burney’s Complete Plays (Sabor ed.) in 1995. Although a number of interesting contributions have since reformulated Burney scholarship in terms of comedy (discussing, for instance, the comic elements in Evelina, or the genteel comedies The Witlings and A Busy Day), the tragic component of Burney’s opus remains one of the last frontiers of enquiry. My talk, "Between a Pastoral and Melodrama: Frances Burney and the Romantic Stage", offers a new dimension to the appraisal of Burney’s dramaturgy by focusing on 'Hubert De Vere, a Pastoral Tragedy,' written during Burney’s years at George III’s court (1786-1794). Despite the interest shown by John Philip Kemble, the greatest tragic actor of the age and the manager of Drury Lane Theatre, Hubert De Vere never reached the stage or, more surprisingly, the printed page, preordaining its subsequent critical eclipse.

This research is part of the Horizon 2020 project called "Opening Romanticism: Reimagining Romantic Drama for New Audiences"(OpeRaNew) ID 892230 within the ERC programme Horizon 2020 MSCA-IF-2019. The PI is Francesca Saggini. See CORDIS website at
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2022
EventBARS/NASSR 2022 joint Conference "New Romanticisms" - Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Aug 20225 Aug 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Frances Burney
  • theatre
  • drama
  • romanticism
  • 1790s
  • Isle of Wight
  • King John
  • Magna Carta
  • chronotope
  • name theory
  • canon
  • stage


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