Fat and lit

hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Thu Feb 6 09:19:49 EST 2003

> Don't know if Franny is used more for Francis, or just because it has less rude connotations.

I certainly remember sniggering whenever 'Fanny By Gaslight' came on the telly... 

There's also the question of formality. You may have noticed that it is no longer common practice to refer to Fanny Burney by that name - she's now Frances, to show that she's a serious writer (cf not calling Jane Austen 'Jane').

The story of Fanny Adams, incidently, which gave rise to the 'Sweet Fanny Adams' expression, and hence to both the euphemisms under discussion, is a tragic and brutal one, which took place near where I grew up. This from a convenient internet source:

"Sweet Fanny Adams," was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered at the age of 8 on Flood Meadows, Alton, in 1867. She was out playing one day when she was attacked by Frederick Baker. He was a clerk at a local solicitor's office, and it seemed, quite sane. It was not until the murder was investigated that his diary revealed his casual confession - "Killed a girl, it was fine and hot." He was found guilty of wilful murder and the judge stated that Baker's mind must have been "of non-natural condition." Baker was hanged at Winchester on August 27th, and the papers reported that, "At the appointed time he was conducted to the scaffold and, after a few minutes spent in prayer, was launched into eternity." Fanny Adams was laid to rest at St. Lawrence cemetery and her headstone is still maintained today by Alton's public.


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