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Richardson, Samuel

(British, 1689–1761)

Samuel Richardson received little formal education, though by the age of 13 is reputed to have gained employment writing letters on behalf of young lovers. He was apprenticed to the print trade, and later successfully set up his own printing business. A manual of ‘correct-style’ in letter-writing served as the blueprint for his first and most popular novel, Pamela (1739–40), the story, told entirely through letters sent between the various characters, of a serving-girl whose refusal of her master's advances result in her eventual reward through marriage. Clarissa (1747–8) is a complex psychological study centred on a young woman's rape, and although at first considered ‘indecent’ in England, achieved great influence in Europe. Sir Charles Grandison (1753–4) portrays a ‘good man’ choosing between two women, though its extreme length has meant that it is now little read.

Henry Fielding  WB

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Pa-Sc)