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REVISITING STONEHENGE: MARRIAGE, MASCULINITY, AND BURNEY'S
SENTIMENTAL HERO IN THE WANDERER
J. KEVIN JORDAN
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
J. Kevin Jordan
For the two EAs who taught me the meaning of masculinity
First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Brian McCrea, who has guided me through
two degrees and much more. I would also like to thank Dr. Patricia Craddock for helping
me to tie up the loose ends. Secondly, I want to thank Erin Sumner and Elliot Sumner-
Jordan for having the patience and care to endure my affair with Frances Burney for so
many years. I also want to thank my parents for trusting me when said I wanted to read
novels in college, my brother for always saying so much with so few words, and the rest
of my family for smiling when I talked about my projects. Finally, a giant "thank you"
goes to all of my Gainesville friends (past and present), especially Michael "whatnot"
Dietz, Julie "iron chef' Sinn, Michael "neighbor" Loughran, Chris "indigo" Jones, Val
"emerald isle" Lietner, and Jon "sergeant" Stern, who cut me loose or kept me anchored
at all the right times over the years.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S .................................................................................................. iv
A B S T R A C T ..........................................................................................................v i
1 TH E W AND ERER FIN D S A H OM E ........................................................................... 1
2 MARRIAGE AND THE SENTIMENTAL MAN .......................................................6
3 THE IM PA CT OF CO AR SEN ESS......................................................... .............. 13
4 TH E B E ST O F M EN....................... ........................................... ........................... 17
L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S .............................................................................. .............3 1
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................................................. ...............33
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
REVISITING STONEHENGE: MARRIAGE, MASCULINITY, AND BURNEY'S
SENTIMENTAL HERO IN THE WANDERER
J. Kevin Jordan
Chair: Dr. Brian McCrea
Major Department: English
Since the middle of the 1980s, much of the psychoanalyses of Frances Burney
have focused on her relationship with her father and the burning of her juvenilia. Critics
have used these two major areas of Burney's life to understand her fiction. No matter the
approach, most scholars have expressed some sort of dismay with the unsatisfactory
males (heroes?) that appear throughout Burney's novels. Margaret Anne Doody
describes the male characters of The Wanderer as "all weak men." However, these
characters are judged against standards that rest in the established rules of a patriarchal
society. We might reevaluate the 'strength' of Burney's males by examining a lesser-
explored aspect of her life.
Little attention has been given to perhaps Burney's most important relationship,
that of her marriage to Alexandre d'Arblay. In d'Arblay we may see another standard by
which we may be able to assess the 'strength' of Burney's heroes. Burney and d'Arblay
had a relationship that revolved around sharing of feelings and sentiment. Their marriage
resembles a union based on companionship, rather than social, economic, or political
strategy. Their union also represents a larger shift in marriage practice. It is a union
termed a companionate marriage. By looking at Burney's 'real-life hero,' we may find
another perspective by which to view Bumey's fictional heroes, and thus vindicate their
Most notably, Albert Harleigh, the hero of The Wanderer, shares many of the
characteristics that attracted Burney to d'Arblay. The 'weakness' of Burney's heroes
actually involves sentimentality. Harleigh is too feeling. His failings as a satisfactory
'hero' come at moments where his sentiments disable him. However, Burney's journals
reveal an attraction to the sentiment she finds in d'Arblay, a sentiment that causes
Harleigh to be declared weak. Bumey describes d'Arblay with a vocabulary that revolves
around his sentiments and feelings. The strength Bumey sees in d'Arblay mirrors the
'weakness' of her fictional heroes.
According to the literary tradition of heroes, Harleigh certainly isn't one.
However, by looking closely at the 'failings' of Burney's heroes and the reasons d'Arblay
proved such a good husband, we may reevaluate the appeal and strength of the Bumey
THE WANDERER FINDS A HOME
Frances Burney lived during a period that provided a wealth of subjects on which
she could turn her talented and keen eye. Critics and historians identify the mid- to late-
eighteenth century as a transitional period for many social, political, and economic
institutions. Burney's novels reflect and comment upon all of these changes. She
witnessed the aftermath of massive political revolution first hand while living in France
from 1802-1812. She wrote The Wanderer during her time in France and sets it "During
the dire reign of the terrific Robespierre." She heard the rising voices of the feminist
movement in Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays. These voices sound in Burney's
fiction through characters such as Elinor Jodrell in The Wanderer. She saw the social
effects of the decline of patriarchy; all of her novels include decaying patriarchal figures.
From Mr. Villars in Evelina to the Bishop in The Wanderer, figures of male authority are
absent, while in Camilla Mr. Tyrold is dominated by his wife. The eponymous Cecilia is
left with three surrogate fathers, each unsatisfying in a different way.
Despite the richness of her insight and commentary, Burney remained a relatively
minor figure in eighteenth century studies until the mid-1980s. Then Burney criticism
exploded. Kristina Straub, Margaret Ann Doody, and Julia Epstein published
monographs devoted to Burney in 1987, 1988, and 1989, respectively. With a complete
edition of Burney's journals and letters available, much of the criticism included
significant references to her biography. Critics tended to focus upon the difficulty of
Burney's existence as a female author and the feminism(s) found in Burney's journals and
fiction. In the early 90s, Burney's work (and critical discussion of it) expanded yet again.
Eighteenth Century Fiction published a volume devoted to Burney's work (3.4, 1991):
Much of the criticism dealt with Evelina and again focused largely on psychobiography,
with most of the attention directed at the relationship between Burney and her father, Dr.
Charles Bumey. Fortunately, critics continue to expand both the Burney canon and the
basis of her interest. Once Burney's least well-known and least discussed novel, The
Wanderer has been receiving more critical attention in the last few years. Upon its
publication in 1814, Burney's last novel met with severe criticism from reviewers such as
William Hazlitt and John Wilson Croker. However, recent critics have been finding
much that is positive to say about Burney's final work. In the last five years, more
articles that focus on The Wanderer, as opposed to all of Burney's other works, have
appeared in Eighteenth Century Fiction. Justine Crump, Sara Silih, and Patricia Meyer
Spacks have studied respectively the moral debates between Harleigh and Elinor, the role
of race and its implications for Ellis, and propriety as it creates both oppression and
protection for women. Also, Helen Thompson recently published an essay in ELH that
reaffirms the importance of the structure and length of The Wanderer. Burney's last
novel is finally receiving the attention that it has deserved.
As the flow of Burney criticism moves to include The Wanderer, critics have
displayed little of the biographical concern that has dominated the majority of articles and
books about Burney and her work. I would like to at once join in the flourishing critical
debate about The Wanderer and revisit some of the earlier critiques of Burney's heroes.
Doody, Straub, and Epstein share a general notion that Burney's novels reveal her desire
to fight the social hierarchies established by patriarchal power. Moreover, Doody assigns
Burney a permanent trajectory toward Jacobin loyalties. These critics also find Burney's
heroes to be weak and unsatisfying. Doody describes Albert Harleigh, the hero of The
Wanderer, as "the last and least attractive of a series of Burney heroes." In essence, "He
does not satisfy our ideas of the 'hero' of a love story---who ought to be handsome,
dashing, strong, and courageous, if a trifle self-willed" (Wxxiii). Bumey's heroes are
flawed in that they fail to live up to the expectations established by the heroes of the
romance tradition. If Burney is to subvert patriarchal order, how are her heroes to
survive a comparison to its standards?
Claudia Johnson offers another explanation for the weakness of the Bumey hero.
What critics have called weakness may be reconsidered as sentimentality. Rather than
being dashing and self-willed, the Burney hero acts with punctilio and consideration.
Rather than commanding respect based on aristocratic status, he shies away from
confrontation and, in the case of Harleigh, can even be disabled by it. Johnson too is
disappointed by the Bumey hero. She recognizes the sentiment that possesses him, but
finds that sentiment to be yet another location for male authority. Johnson argues that the
feminization of men, when accompanied by the stagnation of gender roles for females,
offers little alternative for a character such as The Wanderer's Juliet. In the very different
views of Johnson and Doody, the Bumey hero proves to be equally unsatisfactory.
Might there be a way to reevaluate the Bumey hero such that this type of
character, when Burney consistently returned to in her fiction, achieves credibility and
can stand as a respectable, satisfactory partner for her heroines? Because they measure
her heroes against the heroes of the romance and the ideals of sentimentality, most critics
also find the marriages that conclude her novels quite unsatisfactory. Why did Bumey
consistently end her novels this way, and why do the grooms all have sentimentality in
common? Recent works by G. J. Barker-Benfield and Tim Fulford explore changing
notions of masculinity during the eighteenth century. The standard for masculinity
moved from dashing, physically adept heroes in the romance tradition, to caring,
thinking, and feeling men who were considerate and understanding. This, along with
Lawrence Stone's study of shifting marriage practices in eighteenth century England,
provides a new way to consider Burney's heroes. Also, while much has been said
concerning Burney's relationship with her father, very little notice has been given to,
perhaps, Burney's most important relationship: her marriage to Alexandre d'Arblay.
Burney and d'Arblay achieved a connection that resulted in a very satisfying (for them)
"companionate marriage" (Stone's term). I would like to explore more closely the place of
Burney's marriage and the importance it held in her life and fiction. By viewing her
heroes through the characteristics of one Burney's most important relationships,
especially in light of shifting marriage practices and changing definitions of masculinity,
we might better understand those heroes' perceived weakness and reevaluate their
To suggest a new way to view Burney's heroes, I would like to discuss two main
issues. First, the shifting attitudes toward marriage and masculinity. Stone provides
substantial evidence and commentary regarding "the rise of the companionate marriage."
The failing patriarchal system resulted in a jointed change in the nature of marriages and
the personal characteristics necessary to maintain them. Barker-Benfield's work extends
beyond Stone and more specifically examines the shift in male behavior and masculinity.
The sociohistoric moment described by Stone and Barker-Benfield sets a background
capable of illuminating the reasons for Burney's heroes' perceived weakness. Second, I
will show that Burney had reason to understand the dangers of traditional masculinity, a
desire a companion representative of this new version of masculinity. Burney's brother,
James Burney, and brother-in-law, Molesworth Phillips, provided her with examples of
the difficulty in filial and marital relationships with old order males. James and Phillips
both went to sea as young men and formed the violent and gruff tendencies that were
necessary for their posts, but damaging to domestic felicity. Perhaps most devastating to
Burney, was Phillip's horrid treatment of his wife, her sister, Susan. Susan's marriage
resulted in estrangement from her family, extreme financial difficulties, and constant fear
of her violently tempered husband. In contrast, d'Arblay also entered a traditional career
as a military man but ultimately came to represent a version of masculinity that was quite
distant from that of Phillips and James Burney. Thus, the marriage of Burney and
d'Arblay looks quite different than her sister's. Through these biographical and
sociohistorical situations, I will suggest a new approach to Burney's heroes, specifically
MARRIAGE AND THE SENTIMENTAL MAN
The institution of marriage offers a difficult subject for discussion in that it is at
once both an extremely private, yet utterly public matter. Not only were marriage
practices shifting in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, but they were
also highly debated and discussed publicly through fiction, marriage manuals, and
periodicals. Stone looks to public records and marriage manuals, while Barker-Benfield
focuses largely on fiction. Regardless, in each case, the institution of marriage reflects a
fundamental shift in the nature of ideal male/female relations. As the nature of such
relationships changed, so did the attitudes and behaviors expected from the individuals
taking part. Most importantly, these changes resulted in a new version of masculinity,
one that valued a "sensible" and "sentimental" man.
During the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the widespread (among the
propertied and moneyed classes) marriage based on political or economic union began to
decline in its popularity. Parents lost control over the unions of their children. Social,
political, and economic alliances worked out by parents took a second seat the affections
of children for their mates. Parents' mandate changed to parents' permission. These
developments are summarized in Stone's phrase the "rise of the companionate marriage."
However, the rise was a slow one. "In 1727, Daniel Defoe complained that still in his
own time 'the money and the maidenhead is the subject of our meditations,' the result
being 'how much marriage, how little friendship'" (Stone p. 217). Defoe highlights the
important distinction between friendship and marriage that plagued many relationships.
With little 'friendship' involved, successful (in a sentimental and personal, hence
companionate sense) marriages were scarce, or at least dependent on parents' judgments,
rather than those of the man and woman involved. Defoe also implies an expectation of
friendship in a marriage. Stone cites the social effect of such, "Paradoxically enough, the
rise of separation in the eighteenth century, like the rise of divorces in the twentieth, is an
indication of rising emotional expectations from marriage. In periods when expectations
are low, frustrations will also be low" (p. 223). Couples were no longer expected to find
all of their personal fulfillment outside of the domestic sphere. By 1780, Stone explains
"that... for the first time in history romantic love became a respectable motive for
marriage among the propertied classes" (p. 190).
Hopes of a companionate marriage required a change in the behaviors and
personalities of both men and women. I would like to focus on the necessary change in
the manners of men, one which was necessary for men to prove successful companions.
Ultimately, a new understanding of masculinity would replace the selfishness and
coarseness that pervaded male behavior within the old patriarchal order. A female author
of an 1846 marriage manual warned of "the intense coarseness of the male character"
(Stone p. 250). Stone attributes the passage's emphasis not to "the male sexual drive, but
rather to masculine selfishness, desire for autocratic domestic authority, and contempt for
common little politeness in the treatment of a wife" (p. 250). Women were right to fear
marriage. Men were still being educated in a manner that produced despotic characters
groomed to be the head of a patriarchal system.
Many of the behavioral 'problems' exhibited by British males began as early as
grammar school and continued into the universities. The inequality of the educational
system taught boys early on that 'autocratic' authority was theirs for the taking. Anthony
Fletcher notes, "Their schooling and further education at university, the Inns of Court and
through the Grand Tour, was the foundation of the gentry's patriarchal command of
English society" (p. 298). For most, "The grammar school was formative for a large
number of boys, lifting them from the home into a future world of leisured authority" (p.
300). With schools serving the purpose of maintaining established social and gender
hierarchies, boys were shaped into characters who found acceptance and defined
themselves through public display, rather than through domestic grace. Fletcher also
notes the common practice (supported by many educators) in schools that allowed and
even encouraged boys to learn courage and bravery through fighting and harsh physical
punishment (pp. 307-8). The lives of school-boys rested "in a kind of'primitive
subculture,' engaged in immorality, indiscipline, riot, and rebellion" (Barker-Benfield p.
46). Education linked violent and unruly behavior with the strict honor codes of the
gentry. The rite of passage for young men supported injurious liberty and lack of self-
control. Moreso, the culture of school-boys established the public sphere as the locale for
the definition of character. Their masculinity was codified in violence and traditional
notions of manliness.
Unfortunately, the violence that inhabited the school yards extended into the
streets, and onto helpless victims. The university was a place where students joined "the
ranks of rakes and rioters." Barker-Benfield writes, "There innocent young lads were
corrupted, introduced to drinking, gambling, and prodigal spending as well as sex. The
university was where young men, sexually maturing beings away from home and subject
to peer pressure, could become 'men of the world'" (p. 46). England's schools were
producing violently self-concerned men. The blurring of the rake/student distinction
became increasingly dangerous when students formed groups intent on public assault.
These groups frequently fought with the watch, terrorized women, beat gentlemen and
beggars alike, and took advantage of the handicapped (Barker-Benfield p. 47). Naturally,
any woman (or other person for that matter) would be wise to fear "the coarseness of the
Clearly a new male figure was in order. Westenhall Wilkes, in an edition
published in 1740 that ran to eight editions through 1766, advises "his readers to seek in a
husband such qualities as 'a virtuous disposition, a good understanding, an even temper,
an easy fortune, and an agreeable person'" (Stone p. 219). "The campaign for the
reformation of manners" began late in the seventeenth century (Barker-Benfield p. 55).
Great efforts were employed to curtail the rampant violent behavior of men in the streets
of London. As the reading public and the population of London skyrocketed (relatively
speaking) around the same time, a large part of the 'campaign' centered upon the
publication of pamphlets and papers. The Tatler and The Spectator intended "to 'recover'
the 'age' out of its desperate state of vice and folly" (Barker-Benfield p. 61). "Addison,
Steele, and their fellow reformers saw themselves facing the dissolution of any standard
of morality and taste" (Barker-Benfield p. 61). Particularly, they wanted to make room
for a new social position that mitigated the dichotomy between the rake and the Puritan.
Addison, especially, attempted to "enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with
morality" (The Spectator No. 10). In an effort to tame rakish behavior, he attempts to
place philosophy in "clubs and assemblies, at tea tables and coffeehouses." Such
reformers wanted to replace rowdy public behavior with thoughtful conversations. If
men were busy matching wits, then they were not terrorizing innocent people.
The Spectator also tried to shift notions of pleasure from outward behavior to
internal reflection. It "claimed that it controlled special keys to unlock still higher
degrees of pleasure, including the mastery of ancient languages as well as those of
Christian morality and self-discipline" (Barker-Benfield p. 62). Reformers made
widespread attempts at affecting change across many levels of society. Addison and
Steele also proposed of education for women and the newly rich. Addison implies that
the new merchant class suffered from idleness (of intellectual pursuit) and lack of
education. He imagines himself educating "the blanks of society... [those] altogether
unfurnished with ideas." He "will daily instill into them such sound and wholesome
sentiments as shall have a good effect on their conversation for the ensuing twelve hours"
(my emphasis). Addison focused on the reformation (or creation) of proper sentiment in
order to change the intellectual and social landscape of London city life. For the most
part, reformers look toward education to rectify the ill-effects of school-house culture.
Writers of fiction took another direction as they expressed the need for a change
in the manners of men. Barker-Benfield notes a fairly standard method of conversion in
"sentimental fiction." With more than strict didacticism in mind, most authors contrived a
system to convert men's manners along with their religious beliefs. Licentious men
became at once respectable and religious (Barker-Benfield p. 250). Barker-Benfield sees
Mr. B in Pamela as an example of such a conversion, while Clarissa offers Lovelace as a
failed attempt at conversion (pp. 250-4). For Barker-Benfield, the conversion of these
male characters occurs in such a manner that the newly shaped male became a reflection
of women's wishes for their treatment by men. "The creation of men of feeling was the
expression of'collective wish fulfillment,' and of deep need on the part of women"
(Barker-Benfield p. 247). The conversion, however much it led to better treatment of
women of "quality," did nothing to alleviate any real inequality that existed, either
socially or legally. Men still maintained legal authority as husband and father (an issue
that would plague the marriage of Burney's sister, Susan).
Conversion may not have been the ideal route to a sound marriage, but the new
ideal man was endowed with a series of characteristics that would encourage the proper
treatment of those around him. Heroes of sentimental fiction "identified with Christian
piety and goodness" and "opposed gambling, oaths, drinking, idleness, cruelty to animals,
and other elements of popular male culture" (Barker-Benfield p. 247-8). Gone were the
ways of dueling and brutality displayed in earlier fictions. The new hero also showed a
concern for the preferences and objections of the women around him. The sentimental
hero commanded a refined display of manners with 'delicacy' and thus became a better
candidate for a companionate marriage.
By the eighteenth century, women and men alike began to affect change in the
practice of marriage and the personal behavior necessary to make it successful. The
works of Stone and Barker-Benfield (among others) illuminate the emergence of, and
demand for, an new time of masculinity. Failing patriarchal systems placed much more
power in the hands of surviving male heirs, who in turn exercised a greater right to
choose their companions. As women were able to follow suit in expressing their
preference in a companion, their dislike of rakish brutes settled in the minds of men.
With marriage practices changing and expectations of men encouraging more delicate
traits, a new kind of hero needed to emerge and break free from the old romance
THE IMPACT OF COARSENESS
While Burney would have been familiar with the possibilities for a male's
conversion in fiction, her experiences in reality harshly taught her otherwise. Burney and
her family were enraged and embarrassed by the treatment of her beloved sister, Susan,
and the behavior of her brother James. In each of these situations, 'the coarseness of the
male character' directly contributed to the pain of Burney and her family. In Susan's case,
the marriage to Molesworth Phillips resulted in a life of fear and danger; one which
caused her to be separated from Burney for the last five years of her life. James created a
stir in the Burney family when he left his wife and children to live with his half-sister,
Sarah Harriet Burney. Both of these men played an important role in Burney's life, and
left impressions that showed the true cruelty that the wrong type of husband could bring.
After James' naval career ended in 1785, he soon married Sally Payne. However,
by 1798 he had grown tired of his wife and children and spent most of his time visiting
his half-sister, Sarah (who was still living at home with Dr. Burney). After Dr. Burney
had refused him refuge from his unhappy home life, James and Sarah ran away together.
The nature of the relationship between James and Sarah is still very unclear. Early
readers have assumed that the relationship was sexual in nature. However, Lorna J. Clark
makes a very strong case that the relationship was much less scandalous in nature (p.
xxxv-xxxvii). Regardless, James left his wife to care for their children (the youngest of
whom was less than two) during his five-year absence. While James did eventually
return to his family, Burney would have seen the precarious situation of a mother and
wife abandoned by her husband.
The exploits of Phillips proved to be much more traumatic for Susan, and by
extension, Burney. His treatment of Susan eventually lead to her estrangement from her
beloved sister for the five years that preceded her death. However, his cruelty began
much earlier. Less than 14 years after their marriage in 1782, "Phillips, now unfaithful,
tyrannical, and cruel, took complete possession of their son, sending him away to school
and preventing Susanna from seeing him" (Doody, LWp. 282). Her sorrow only
increased in 1796, when Phillips forced her to return to Ireland, away from all of her
family and friends. Phillips had the law in his favor. He could compel his wife to
accompany him wherever he might choose to go. Divorce was unheard of for ladies, and
legal separation was an even more precarious option. If Susan obtained a legal
separation, she almost certainly would have lost her children. She had no choice but to
go with him. In Ireland, Phillips continued his adulterous pursuits publicly and
shamelessly. Susan's "life in Ireland became increasingly lonely and more miserable, as
she was subjected to Phillips' harsh temper and perhaps even to physical violence"
(Doody, LWp. 284). Her health steadily declined until in 1799, Phillips had no choice
but to grant her travel back to England. The couple made it to Chester in late December.
However, with Burney and d'Arblay en route, Susan died on January 6 of the new year.
Susan was Burney's first and most important correspondent throughout her life. The
bulk of Burney's letters are addressed to Susan. She also acted as the go-between for
Burney and d'Arblay during their courtship. Susan was an ever present figure in Burney's
life, no matter their distance. Her death was devastating to Burney. "This was the
greatest bereavement Burney had known hitherto. She never got over it. She kept the
sixth of January as a sorrowful anniversary for ever after, even when her father rebuked
her for the practice" (Doody, LWp. 286). Certainly the treatment of Susan served as a
warning for Burney. His brutishness and cruelty exemplified the dangers in a marriage to
a man who lacked sensibility.
James was the only member of the Burney family who did not hold Phillips
personally responsible for Susan's untimely death. Ironically enough, James was the only
member of the family who had seen Phillips' violent side prior to his ill treatment of
Susan. Both men sailed through the east Pacific as part of Captain Cook's crew. They
were comrades in dangerous sea travels and violent confrontations with the people they
encountered. Harmon recounts the circumstance by which Phillips gained fame for his
bravery in battle. As Lieutenant of Marines, Phillips accompanied Cook to shore to settle
a dispute with the natives. A skirmish broke out in which Cook was fatally wounded. As
the other Marines fled the shore, Phillips stayed behind and is thought to have shot
Cook's assailant. He returned to England a hero.
James soon introduced his good friend to the rest of his family. Phillips
immediately took a liking to Susan, and married her two months after their introduction.
In that time, the Burney family could find nothing suspect about Phillips. Harmon notes
that, while Dr. Burney was a bit skeptical about the large income Phillips was due to
inherit, all other opinions of him were favorable, if not exceptional. It would seem that
he had been 'converted' from his sea going behaviors. However, the conventions of
fiction did not operate for Phillips. His character was formed at sea, and remained
James and Phillips indirectly exposed Bumey to the dangers of traditional
masculinity (a naval career was a common option for sons not inheriting a title). The
early portion of their lives shaped the men they would become, and the fate their
domestic lives would realize:
They had seen firsthand, and been threatened with, violent death; they had
endured extremes of weather and the privations of long sea voyages
(where fricassee f rat was a delicacy only the officers were allowed); they
had been among the first Europeans to set eyes on the other-worldly
icescapes of both the Arctic and the Antarctic, had met and consorted with
exotic and utterly foreign people, and had doubtless seen, perhaps joined
in, countless scenes of coarseness and brutality as well as of heroism and
comradeship. From the 1780s onward, James Burney showed signs of
disturbance, restlessness with his home life and an inability to further his
career; Phillips metamorphosed into a gambler, drinker, and philanderer.
(Harman p. 157)
No matter the optimism about male conversion that was common in the fiction
Burney read, these real examples would have impacted Burney.
THE BEST OF MEN
Alexandre d'Arblay, much like James Bumey and Molesworth Phillips, sought a
career in the military. However, the similarities stop there. D'Arblay's career path did
not leave him hopelessly cruel and selfish. Rather, the French Revolution forced him out
of his military mold and provided the converting force that Barker-Benfield locates in
religion. As d'Arblay's life progressed, he became further removed from his initial
career, pursuing companionate marriage with Bumey--one that she happily entered late in
Prior to the publication of Evelina, Burney wrote that she would need "particular
inducements" to give her hand in marriage (Straub p. 53). Straub writes, "Marriage was,
in Bumey's view, a risk with potentially catastrophic results that was probably better
avoided than taken" (p. 53). D'Arblay made Burney want to take the risk. At once
frightening, and later rewarding, Bumey's opinion of marriage seems to be difficult to
place. Ultimately, her decision for herself and her heroines revolved around the type of
While most earlier critics find the Bumey male to be weak and unsatisfying,
Barker-Benfield offers a different view. He places Evelina's Lord Orville within the
tradition of sentimental heroes, but also apart from its conventions. "Unlike Belmont,
Belford [of Clarissa], and Mr. B [of Pamela], Orville has not had to be converted. He
has been unambiguously a man of feeling all along, identifying himself thoroughly with
the reformation of male manners" (p. 255). Bumey's heroes begin as sentimental
characters, expressing the "better (sic) it would be if men never became rakes at all"
(Barker-Benfield p. 255). The Burney hero doesn't satisfy the romantic ideal espoused by
Doody, or quite fit the mold of the sentimental hero described by Barker-Benfield.
However, an examination of d'Arblay (and Burney's marriage) offers another version of
Barker-Benfield's man of feeling, by which we can evaluate the Burney hero. Rather
than a reformed rake, d'Arblay exhibits the qualities of the man of feeling, but reaches
them through another means. His 'reform' comes by way of natural sentiment and taste,
lack of professional responsibility, and a desire for domestic felicity. This is the ideal for
a Burney husband.
Burney remained a single woman until she was 41 years of age. By 1792, she had
resigned herself to a single life. However, Burney met d'Arblay in January of 1793 and
married him six months later. The years immediately following her marriage seem to
have been the happiest of her life. Burney's joy in marriage to d'Arblay rested in a
seemingly deep attraction to and affection for his manners, interests, and sentiments.
These traits mirror those of the man of feeling, required for a companionate marriage.
D'Arblay represents a new male who emerged from a growing resentment for traditional
aristocratic (and hence patriarchal) roles in marriage.
Frances Burney clearly reveals the dilemma of a woman in desire of a companion.
In 1775, Burney received a proposal from a suitor named Thomas Barlow. In her journal,
she recounts her fears that her father might "persuade" or "advise" her to marry him:
I felt, too, that I had no argumentative objections. .. his Character,
disposition, situation-I knew nothing against-but O!-I felt he was no
companion for my heart!-I wept like an infant-Eat nothing-seemed as if
already married-& passed the whole day in more misery than, merely on
my own account, I ever did before in my life,-except upon the loss of my
own beloved mother-& ever revered and most dear Grandmother. (Troide,
Burney's fear of marriage to Barlow runs so deep that only the deaths of her mother and
grandmother provide an analogy for her feelings. Patricia Meyer Spacks attributes
Burney's reaction to fear for the loss of her freedom (p 164). But Bumey suffers so
intently because she does not see Barlow as a companion for her heart. Fortunately for
Burney, d'Arblay later will serve as that companion.
But what of this companion? Burney's interest in d'Arblay rested upon a
companionship based on his sentiments and personal interests. A French emigre who had
served in the army of King Louie XVI, d'Arblay arrived in England having fled France,
leaving behind his estate and many friends. Bumey met him at Norbury Park where he
stayed with her close friends, the Lockes, and married him only six months later. Their
brief courtship and subsequent marriage relied very much on the notion of
companionship. Moreover, d'Arblay's sentimentality seems to be one of his attractions for
Burney. Her union with d'Arblay resulted in many outside difficulties and pressures, but
his companionship was her chosen route to happiness.
Burney's correspondence with d'Arblay, family, and friends reveals much about
why he proved such an attractive husband. Through the first two months after their
introduction, Bumey takes special note of the understandable dejection displayed by
d'Arblay due to the course of the revolution in France. She describes his "tender Heart"
and "generous delicacy." Burney writes that "these immediate French sufferers here
interest us, and these alone have been able to interest me at all" (Hemlow, II, 9). Amidst
the emotional turmoil, she is able to form a special friendship with d'Arblay. For Burney,
he soon becomes one of "the best of men."
Readers of Burney's journals may have a difficult time fixing the character of
d'Arblay. A successful French military officer, d'Arblay frequently seems an unlikely
soldier. Burney describes him to her father, "With this, his Military portion, he is
passionately fond of literature, a most delicate critic in his own language, well versed in
both Italian & German, and a very elegant Poet" (Hemlow, II, 19). Typically, d'Arblay's
learning would coincide with military success. However, Burney never mentions his
military life as an attraction. Moreover, only his dejection as a fleeing political refugee
seems attractive. Burney's descriptions of d'Arblay revolve around a language of
sentiment and feeling. D'Arblay appears as a figure removed from his military past, who
acts first as a companion and friend to Burney. Once married, d'Arblay continues to
distance himself from his previous career. D'Arblay's displacement from his 'military
portion' is clearest when Burney describes the scene at a Grand Review honoring
Indeed I was amazed at the number of old friends by whom he was
recognized, and touched--far more than I can express, to see him--in his
old Coat & complete undress, accosted by his fine [former] Brethren, in all
their new and beautiful array. ... He was, indeed. .. the most striking
figure in the Apartment from contrasting. .. with the general herd by being
the plainest & worst dressed. (Hemlow, V, 307)
D'Arblay certainly differs from the English male warned about in marriage manuals of
the period and discussed by Stone. His distance from the military sets him further away
from the violence associated with it, and closer to the peaceful benevolent man of feeling.
D'Arblay's sentiments allowed him to pursue domestic happiness in life.
However, this pursuit also managed to diminish his manhood, at least as it would be
defined in a traditional patriarchal system. His desires became those of retirement and
domestic felicity. D'Arblay initially shares these desires with Burney very early in their
relationship. Prior to their marriage, d'Arblay writes to Burney, "Just now we were
taking a walk in Norbury's Park--I said if I might almost have my own a small cottage in
this great wood! Guess with whom I wished to share its little shelter. Farewell my
amiable and beloved friend!!!" (Hemlow, II, 122). D'Arblay also had difficulty in
procuring any sort of employment to support a family. The previous month he had
written to Bumey:
I know to what I am fit; and I see that few places would be convenient for
me. ... I desire a place in which, it may be possible to exist without the
entire sacrifice of my freedom, who's homage is designed to you only, in
case I may be sure that you never shall feel any repentance of your
accepting to share my fate. Then all my past woes will have been a
cherished way to lead me to happiness. But in order to effect this too
agreeable project it is indispensable that I may obtain some little place
which may put us in situation of living in comfortable mediocrity near our
friends. (Hemlow, II, 84-5)
D'Arblay recognizes his difficult financial position, but only to the extent that it prohibits
a comfortable life with Bumey. Moreover, the prospect of a comfortable life makes all of
his previous sufferings worthwhile. These sufferings continually arise for d'Arblay,
Burney, and her heroines. It seems that a certain degree of suffering becomes the
guarantee of good feelings and, thus, the basis for a companionate marriage. Moreover,
d'Arblay's comfort in domestic life allows him to avoid the conflicting notions of
masculinity and effeminacy that plagued most sentimental men.
Throughout their courtship and marriage, Bumey and d'Arblay created a
vocabulary to express their relationship and feelings. Trying to avoid widespread
knowledge of their courtship, Bumey and d'Arblay went to great lengths to conceal their
private conversations--concealment which often involved passing notes. Letter writing
enhanced the intimacy of their correspondence (Barker-Benfield p. 162). Burney writes
of d'Arblay, "His own delicacy and caution save me a world of pain-I have only to take
care of myself' (Hemlow, II, 105). She continues, "Misseur d'Arblay, in passing, gave
me a note, I hope no one saw him. It contained the very feeling verses he has written"
(Hemlow, II, 106). In each case, Burney's word choice rests in sentiment. She notes his
delicacy and his feeling verses. Burney treats d'Arblay with equally strong sentiment.
On his birthday in 1795, she sends d'Arblay this letter. "I have nothing appropriate for
my beloved Friend upon this dear Day,-- My only Manual & visual homage must be a
Rose enrolled in two juvenile burlesque poems, which I present for his diversions:-- --he
will not think This my only homage--while my Heart beats--all others can but be
symbolic & secondary" (Hemlow, III, 104). Burney struggles to find the vocabulary to
express the sentiment she feels and shows, but actually uses language that would be the
basis for modern day cliches and terms of endearment.
The depth of their companionship also shines through in the letters written whilst
one of them is away from home. In 1796, d'Arblay was away while Burney was at home
with young Alex. Burney writes, "Dearest At! [Alex's name for d'Arblay]--come back to
us on Friday,--J'ai beau vantee mon hermitage,--it won't do without my hermit!"
(Hemlow, III, 156). Not only does Bumey miss her husband, but she also equates their
private life at Camilla cottage with that of a hermit. They both sought happiness through
retirement with one another. Much later, in 1814, while Bumey is in England and
d'Arblay is away in Paris, she has not received a letter from him in five weeks. Burney's
next letter reads in part:
Oh mon ami! Objet unique de tout ce qui pour moi est bonheur sur la terre.
entreat some one. .. to write, if you are ill!-which is my continual
dread-and tell me at once HOW to come to you! ... This hope [that the
letters were mis-sent] alone keeps me from despair-and alone prevents
every risk, both of fortune and of precarious heath and safety, to leave all
and fly to you! (Hemlow, VII, P. 385)
At 62 years of age, Burney still expresses the same concern and love for d'Arblay that
one finds in newlyweds. They never cease using a vocabulary of love and concern for
one another; their friendship and closeness stand far from the formalities of mandated
marriages arranged by a patriarch.
Along with his sentiments, d'Arblay's professional disappointments in life make
him a prime choice for a companion. When he realized that his exile from France was
going to be indefinite, he fixed on studying English six hours a day, so that he might
procure some employment. Burney writes, "I fairly confess I see no prospect of success
in this his only hope!--I think it, therefore, a cruel delusion" (Hemlow, II, 135).
D'Arblay's losses deepened when he and Burney later returned to France. While forced
to remain in France during the Napoleonic Wars, Burney writes to her father, "Misseur
d'Arblay has found so nearly nothing remaining of his natural and hereditary claims in his
own province, that he determined upon applying for some employment" in which he is
"at work all day long at a laborious Bureau" (Hemlow, VI, 516, 524). D'Arblay
constantly struggled to find substantial employment. Tellingly, once the Reign of Terror
ended and Napoleon came to power, d'Arblay chose to remain with Burney at Camilla
cottage while many of his former peers chose to return to France. Subsequently, they
flourished in Napoleon's Grand Arme while d'Arblay remained in England. Ultimately,
d'Arblay chose to pursue domestic happiness first. Burney even goes so far as to mention
his losses and quest for companionship in the same sentence, "He has seen so much of
life, and has suffered so severely from its disappointments, that retreat, with a chosen
Companion, is become his final desire" (Hemlow, II, 179). Without much hope of
employment and a failing effort to seek it, d'Arblay places himself in a position to focus
on Burney and their family. As a failed 'professional,' he lessens his traditional position
of social power. Regardless of the pecuniary difficulty that always plagued the
d'Arblays, d'Arblay's diminished position ultimately was a positive force in his marriage.
D'Arblay's weakened position works in conjunction with his sentimentality to make him
the perfect husband.
Burney also placed a great deal of sentimental value in her writing, especially
during her courtship by d'Arblay. They established their relationship through the
exchange of themes so that they might learn one another's native language. Burney and
d'Arblay even exchanged pens as a symbol of their love. Burney wrote, "Come, little
pen! ...Will you remind me of your right owner, by disdaining to transmit to paper any
sentiment that has not truth for its basis, and honor for its principle" (Hemlow, II, 119).
They also bonded through plans to publish Camilla as a co-venture, whereby d'Arblay
would translate the text to French. For Burney and d'Arblay, writing served as an
intimate medium by which they would come to know one another. Burney and d'Arblay
were able to connect, not only through letter writing, but also through Burney's creative
Many critics look at Burney's novels as working out particular issues from her
life, including her existence as a female writer and her relationship with her father.
However, little attention has been paid to how her attraction and marriage to d'Arblay, as
an act of companionship based on sentiment, might illuminate the characters in her
fiction. What many critics have noted as the weakness of Burney heroes, actually
resembles the strengths of d'Arblay. In The Wanderer, Albert Harleigh and Sir Jasper
Herrington fit the d'Arblay prototype. Harleigh is the hero, but Jasper offers a valuable
look at a 'reformed' rake who missed his opportunity for companionship. Sir Jasper more
closely resembles the reformed rake, than the naturally sentimental character.
Regardless, Jasper and Harleigh operate from a position and personality based upon
sentiment, rather than traditional acts of heroism. Moreover, though too late for Sir
Jasper, Harleigh and d'Arblay both find themselves in 'professional' situations that
facilitate their making companionate marriages.
Burney presents a range of male professional and social positions in The
Wanderer. Albert's younger brother, Dennis, is a successful lawyer. However, unlike
Albert, Dennis figures minimally in events and never actually appears in the narrative.
Initially, Dennis is offered as the fiancee of Elinor, but this plan fails early in the
narrative. Upon meeting Albert, Elinor soon forgets her involvement with Dennis and
falls in love with Albert. Even Elinor, perhaps the most socially progressive voice in the
novel, finds Dennis unattractive. The Dennis/Albert contrast shows how certain
characteristics resulting from professional position inhibit/enhance the chance for a
companionate match. As an aristocratic male heir, Albert spends the majority of his time
attending social engagements. Harleigh has no need to pursue any sort of professional
career. Dennis, on the other hand, as a younger son must pursue financial gain. The
trials of a profession leave him unavailable to retrieve Elinor in the opening of the novel,
much less allow him the time and opportunity to desire domestic happiness through
retirement. Albert's free time, domestic priority, and lack of professional ambition enable
him to focus his desires and energies on Juliet, rather than on procuring employment.
With time to spend as he pleases, Harleigh can pursue Juliet. Of course, he does
not do this in a typically 'heroic' manner. His sentiment and desire for a companion
render him weak in the eyes of many readers. Harleigh is the new male character
required for a companionate marriage and is unfairly judged against the standard of
powerful patriarchs. Early in the novel, Harleigh shows the depth of his sentiment. After
Lady Aurora has treated Ellis/Juliet kindly upon their first meeting, Burney writes, "The
eyes of the stranger were not now the only ones that glistened. Harleigh could not see her
thus benignly treated, or rather, as he conceived, thus restored to the treatment to which
she had been accustomed, and which he believed her to merit, without feeling tears
moisten his own" (Wanderer p. 105). Rather than using his sentiment to reinscribe his
aristocratic power, Harleigh is simply moved by the treatment of Ellis/Juliet and thus
hides his sentiment. His eyes do not threaten to moisten on his account, but rather on that
of a feeling he experiences due the treatment of Ellis/Juliet.
We also see Harleigh's delicacy when Elinor attempts suicide at the concert in
which Ellis was to perform. After Elinor stabs herself, "Gently, therefore, and with
tenderness, he [Harleigh] continued to support her; carefully forbearing either to irritate
her enthusiasm, or to excite her spirit of controversy" (p. 361). Here, Harleigh's attention
to Elinor's "feelings" helps to soothe her, at least momentarily. Barker-Benfield notes,
"the man of feeling was shown to respect women and make common ground with them."
(p. 249) Harleigh also shows this ability during his theological discussion with Elinor.
He is consistently the male character who displays the greatest sensitivity to the
sentiment of other characters.
Harleigh's sentiment certainly causes a diminution of traditional power. He lacks
the power to rescue Juliet from her troubles. As she contracts, through no fault of her
own, more and more debt, Harleigh can only offer to transfer her debts to himself. He
cannot force Juliet's debtors to pay her for services rendered as a music instructor.
Harleigh's biggest "disappointment" lies in his inability to save Juliet from her "husband."
Upon hearing of her marriage, Harleigh "appeared to be lost... [and] dragged himself back
to his apartment" (p. 730). When the commissar comes to take Juliet away, Harleigh is
"aloof and disconsolate, fixed like a statue, upon a small planed eminence" (p. 736).
Moreover, as Juliet climbs into the carriage to be taken from the inn after the commissar
captures her, Sir Jasper has not "strength, nor Harleigh courage, to offer aid" (p. 736).
Harleigh is so devastated by the events that he is rendered weak and basically
useless. This is not a result of inherent weakness, but rather the price of sentiment. His
love for Juliet prevents his acting as a traditional hero, and he must suffer the
consequences of such strong feelings. His disposition leads Juliet to exclaim, "Had I an
hundred hearts,--ten thousand times you must have conquered them all" (p. 861). Like
d'Arblay, through his sentimentality, and hence feminization with respect to the
patriarchal tradition, Harleigh becomes an attractive choice for companionate marriage.
While Harleigh cannot save Juliet from the Commissar, and certainly does not
ride in on a white horse to rescue her, Juliet is 'rescued' nonetheless. Sir Jasper offers a
revealing counterpart to Harleigh. He represents the decayed patriarch. As the heir of an
entailed estate, Jasper feels the pressures of a failing patrilinear system of succession. He
remarks to Juliet, "You see in me a whimsical, but contrite old bachelor; whose entailed
estate has lost to him his youth, by ungenerous mistrust: but who would gladly devote the
large possessions which have fallen to him collaterally, to making the rest of his
existence companionable" (p. 634, my emphasis). Jasper also states, "When we are
young, in the midst of the world, and in pursuit of beauty, riches, honours, power, fame,
or knowledge, then, when judgment would either guide us to success, or demolish our
senseless expectations, it keeps aloof from us like a stern stranger: and will only hail us
an intimate, when we have no longer any occasion for its services!" (p. 633, my
emphasis). In each of these passages, Sir Jasper laments his delay in choosing a
companion. His vocabulary of "companionable" and "intimate" shows his desire for
something more than the riches, honours, power, etc., that blinded him as a youth. His
failing lies in his failure to have sought a companion in a wife.
The Stonehenge scene near the end of the novel speaks directly to Sir Jasper's
situation. Earlier critics have read this scene through Juliet. She sees, "The form, that
might still be traced, of an antique structure...evidently circular and artificial...Many
(slabs) were fallen: many, with grim menace looked nodding" while others "rested all the
wars of the elements, in this high and bleak situation, for ages" (p. 765). The physical
degeneration of Stonehenge parallels that of Sir Jasper, who has brought Juliet to this
place and totters next to her. Doody's comments are quite helpful here. She views
Stonehenge as a "release from history" (LWp. 364): "Bumey contrives to make
Stonehenge, which might at first seem suitable only to masculine phallic statement and
symbolism, into a feminine place. That which is purely phallic is (like Sir Jasper)
crippled and decayed--although valiantly decayed" (LWp. 366, my emphasis). Doody
makes an important point. The "antique structure" of patriarchal society is falling apart,
much like the form of Stonehenge. Those that remain, exist in a "bleak" situation. Sir
Jasper's disappointed position in life displays this bleakness nicely for the reader. The
remnant of a patriarchal society casts a bleak shadow for the men, as well as the women.
Burney, however, attempts to show the positive results possible from this decay. She
shows the necessary fall of 'powerful' men to 'weaker,' sentimental characters. While Sir
Jasper has become like the decayed slabs of Stonehenge, Harleigh is ultimately saved
from Sir Jasper's fate through his marriage to Juliet.
In her own life, Burney desired a sentimental companion, and this desire
manifests itself in the heroes of her fiction. In The Wanderer, Burney offers a realistic
love story that revolves around the search for a sentimental husband. Granted, this story
is foregrounded with revolution, dangerous economies, and deplorable characters, but the
narrative works toward an understanding between Harleigh and Juliet. Burney offers
Harleigh as a new kind of hero, but seems unsure of where he may fit. In the opening of
the novel, the other characters attempt to understand Harleigh and Juliet as Don Quixote
and Dulcinea. However, the analogy simply does not hold true. The days of Romance,
even of anti-Romance, have passed, and Burney drops this comparison as she distances
her heroes from the romance tradition. While her characters do fall in love in a
sentimental sense, their quest for an emotional understanding reflects the many social,
economic, and political pressures that work to inhibit and block such an understanding.
Moreover, she clearly distances Harleigh from the traditional patriarchal male. Burney
also distances him from the reformed man of feeling that characterized sentimental
fiction. One can see Burney's difficulty in finding a literary precedent for her work. She
may be able to identify with the romance tradition, but certainly departs from it. The
reader is left with a new kind of hero.
I suggest that the best way to understand Harleigh is to look toward Bumey's real-
life hero. Alexandre d'Arblay provided Burney with the feelings, sentiment, and desire
for retirement that allowed them to achieve a remarkably happy marriage. Similarly, we
see Albert Harleigh as a character who is often "unmanned" by his deepest feelings. His
feelings make him an extraordinary hero, but also cause readers to see him as weak.
However, this weakness is in fact one of the most basic reasons for Burney's attraction to
d'Arblay. By examining d'Arblay and why he proved an attractive person to Burney, we
may find a new way to understand Harleigh and the Bumey male. We should avoid the
standard set by strong patriarchs and their despotic rule, and look to a standard of
companionship, the standard to which Bumey subscribed. D'Arblay represents a new
male role in marriage, much like Harleigh represents a new male role in fiction.
Throughout her life with d'Arblay, and in her novels, Bumey was drawn to sentimental
males. They provided the vehicle by which Burney could realize her dreams of living in
blissful retirement. Finding their strength in sentiment and feeling, Alexandre d'Arblay
and Albert Harleigh represent a new kind of hero and a new standard by which to judge
the Burney hero.
LIST OF REFERENCES
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Britain. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992.
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Crump, Justine. "'Turning the World Upside Down': Madness, Moral Management, and
Frances Burney's The Wanderer." Eighteenth Century Fiction 10.3 (1998): 325-
Doody, Margaret Anne. Frances Burney: The Life and Works. New Brunswick: Rutgers
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Epstein, Julia. The Iron Pen: Frances Burney and the Politics of Women's Writing.
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Harman, Claire. Fanny Burney: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 2001.
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Johnson, Claudia. Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender and Sentimentality in the 1790s:
Wollstonecraft, Radcliffe, Burney, Austen. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995.
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Century England. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976.
Spacks, Patricia Meyer. "Privacy, Dissimulation, and Propriety: Frances Burney and Jane
Austen." Eighteenth Century Fiction 12.4 (2000): 515-532.
Stone, Lawrence. The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England 1500-1800 (Abridged
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Straub, Kristina. Divided Fictions: Fanny Burney and the Feminine Strategy. Lexington:
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Thompson, Helen. "How The Wanderer Works: Reqading Burney and Bourdieu." ELH
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Clarendon P, 1988.
J. Kevin Jordan was raised in Altamonte Springs, Florida, but is sure to always
mention that he was born in Lexington, Kentucky. He was then relocated to Gainesville
to eventually receive a B.A. in English from the University of Florida.
When Kevin completes his Master of Arts in English, he will first try to find a nice
frame with some sort of etching, then scurry back to Altamonte Springs to be with his son
and teach writing to unsuspecting high school graduates and random friends and family