Peter Sabor

Canada Research Chair in 18th-Century Studies

Tier 1 - 2003-06-01
Renewed: 2017-06-01
McGill University
Social Sciences and Humanities


Research involves

Editing the court journals and letters of Frances Burney, an 18th-century novelist, playwright and journal writer, who worked as Keeper of the Robes at the Court of King George III for five years (1786-91).

Research relevance

This research is expanding our knowledge of 18th-century English literature and of daily life during the Georgian era.

A Detailed Account of 18th-century Life

Frances (Fanny) Burney was a prolific 18th-century writer of novels, plays, journals and letters, who knew many of the prominent people of her time, from Samuel Johnson to Napoleon. At the age of 15, she began keeping a journal of her experiences in London's literary, theatrical and musical circles.

There is a strong Canadian connection with this English writer, thanks to McGill University’s Burney Centre, which houses copies of almost all of Burney’s numerous journals and letters. It is headed by Dr. Peter Sabor, Canada Research Chair in 18th-Century Studies, who previously co-edited Burney’s complete plays and two of her novels. He is also co-general editor of a 25-volume edition of the Works and Correspondence of Samuel Richardson and is beginning work on a new biography of Jane Austen.

The Centre has already produced sixteen volumes of Burney journals and letters and is launching a new Burney project: a six-volume edition of Burney’s Court Journals and Letters (1786-1791).

Burney’s journals provide vivid accounts of daily life during the era. They detail King George III's first period of mental derangement and also include extensive reports of the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings, the Governor General of India.

By preparing modern, complete and unabridged scholarly editions of Burney’s journals and letters, this research is expanding the knowledge of 18th-century literature and life.