First Edition of Burney's "Grand Ouvrage"
BURNEY, Fanny. Camilla. Or, A Picture of Youth. London: Printed for T. Payne, at the Mews-Gate; and T. Cadell... , 1796.
First edition. Five octavo volumes (6 7/8 x 4 1/16 inches; 174 x 103 mm). xlviii, 390, [1, ads and colophon], [1, blank]; [4], 432; [4], 468; [4], 432; [4], 556 pp.

Contemporary full speckled calf. Red and black morocco spine labels on each volume, lettered in gilt. Previous owner's heraldic bookplate on front pastedown of each volume. One gathering sprung in volume III. Overall a fine set.

"Frances achieved her most spectacular success in commercial terms. She began what she called her ‘grand ouvrage’, a new novel entitled Camilla, just before the birth of her son. Progress was surprisingly quick in view of the many distractions in her life...Even with substantial revision, the manuscript took little over a year to complete...An elaborate subscription campaign was mounted, with the help of leading figures in society including Frances Boscawen, Frances Crewe, and Frederica Lock. Three hundred subscribers at a guinea and a half for the three volumes included great national potentates and church dignitaries, with many multiple sets listed (fifteen for Burke, and ten for Elizabeth Montagu)...Other women writers among the subscribers were Anne Radcliffe, Hannah More, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen, then an unknown twenty-year-old, who thus publicly announced her discipleship to Frances for the first time...Students of the novel have discovered more autobiographical references in Camilla than in previous works...The main story concerns the education of the heroine as she encounters a wide range of more or less plausible role models and love objects. While satire and comedy have not disappeared, Camilla as a whole is more overtly moralistic than the earlier books, and its language has acquired some of the latinate pomp which marks the author's later work. It has consequently never been her most popular novel, although recent critics have commended its rich portrayal of female difficulties in an age which also saw the appearance of books on this theme by writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays." (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).

Rothschild 550.

HBS # 65180 $3,000