Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum

Fanny and the 2 Hester Thrales


On Sat Dec 31, Don Seltzer wrote
I believe that Fanny was close friends with the Hester Thrale who was Queeney's mother.  A closer connection to Jack is through Fanny's brother James who sailed with Cook and was at one time Jack's captain. James Burney gave Jack one of Fanny's novels but he couldn't get into it.

‘ . . For Frances, the most significant new contact came when her father was introduced to the brewer Henry Thrale at a dinner given by Joshua Reynolds in 1776. By the end of the year Dr Burney had met the memoirist Hester Thrale (later Piozzi), visited the couple's home at Streatham, and begun to give weekly music lessons there to their eldest daughter Queeney (christened Hester).

Frances became a habituée of this circle . . in March 1777 . . she was impressed by the polished and self-confident Hester Thrale. For her part, Hester considered the Burneys ‘a very low Race of Mortals’, but she gradually took to Frances and for the next few years the two women retained an outwardly warm friendship . .

In the early 1780s Frances’ . .  friendship with Hester Thrale suffered. Hester Thrale's second marriage to Gabriel Piozzi drove a wedge between (them), as it estranged almost all the bluestockings and former members of the Streatham set. Frances made little secret of her distaste for the match, and when it took place in July 1784 the break was irrevocable.

Hester thought that Frances had secretly abetted her daughter Queeney in scheming against Piozzi, and rightly judged that the socially insecure Burney clan were embarrassed by the prospect of a misalliance. The two women did not meet again until 1815, when Frances called on the widowed Mrs Piozzi in Bath; Hester claimed to have perfectly forgiven ‘l'aimable traitresse’, but it was too late to resume cordial relations . . ‘

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