Author Biography

Marilyn Francus is a Professor of English at West Virginia University where she specializes in eighteenth-century British literature and culture, women’s studies, satire, and the history of the novel. She is the author of Monstrous Motherhood: 18th-Century Culture and the Ideology of Domesticity (2012) and The Converting Imagination: Linguistic Theory and Swift’s Satiric Prose (1994), and Marilyn served as editor of The Burney Journal (2006-2021) and as chair of the Jane Austen Society of North America International Visitor Program (2015-2022). Her publications have appeared in journals and collections, and her research has been supported by fellowships from Chawton House Library, William Andrews Clark Library, the Jane Austen Society of North America, and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Marilyn is currently at work on two projects: the first examines the nexus of motherhood and authorship in the works of Frances Burney, Frances Sheridan, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Wollstonecraft; the second analyzes Jane Austen’s presence in contemporary popular culture.


During the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death in 2017, the narrative of Austen’s rise to fame and her ongoing celebrity circulated throughout modern culture. But how did this happen? When Austen died in 1817, it was not obvious that Austen would become the archetypal British woman writer. Frances Burney was far more famous in her lifetime than Austen was in hers, and Burney’s novels (particularly Evelina and Cecilia) achieved as much, if not more, critical acclaim than Austen’s works. By comparing the afterlives of Jane Austen and Frances Burney, the factors that shape legacy come into focus—and scholars can use some of these factors to shape the legacy of British women writers today.


legacy, popular culture, literary criticism, Austen, Burney