A Little Soho History

I am currently reading Jenni Murray’s “A History of Britain in 21 Women”. Chapter 5 is about Fanny Burney – a woman I knew very little about prior to reading the book.

She was an English satirical novelist, diarist and playwright , born in 1752. Part of Murray’s chapter on her concentrates on her detailed written account of her diagnosis with breast cancer and subsequent mastectomy in 1811 – at a time when there “was no such thing as an effective anaesthetic”. Burney lived for 29 years after her successful surgery and there is clear evidence that the medical profession learned a lot about the disease as a result of her treatment.

I was intrigued to read that her husband, Monsieur D’Arblay had encouraged her to seek medical advice and that D’Arblay was a French emigre and career soldier who was a member of a liberal group of constitutional reformers. Fanny had married D’Arblay in 1793. Murray’s chapter also referred to the fact that the Burney family had moved to London and set up home in Poland Street, Soho in the early 1760s when Fanny was a child.

Meaby&Co’s Soho office is in Portland Mews – a square which is formed partly by Poland Street and D’Arblay Street. Next step – Wikipedia. It turns out that D’Arblay Street is named after Fanny Burney (Madame D’Arblay) and that her  home from 1760 – 1770 was at 50 Poland Street. I intend to hunt down 50 Poland Street during my next lunch hour.

I love the fact that this area is so rich with history and that it is associated with such a pioneering woman and I would like to think that Meaby&Co continue that pioneering spirit in their cutting edge approach to all things legal.

Written by our Head of Family Law, Joanna Toloczko who may be contacted at jtoloczko@meaby.co.uk or on 020 7703 5034.

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