Samuel Richardson

Samuel Richardson, 1689–1761, English novelist, b. Derbyshire. When he was 50 and a prosperous printer, Richardson was asked to compose a guide to letter writing. The idea of introducing a central theme occurred to him, and he interrupted his task to write and publish his novel of morals in letter form, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded (2 vol., 1740), a work that is widely considered the first modern English novel. The novel tells the story of a virtuous young maidservant who so successfully eludes the lecherous assaults of her employer's son that the young man finally marries her. The guide, known now as Familiar Letters, came out in 1741, just before the two-volume sequel to Pamela. Richardson wrote two more long, epistolary novels, Clarissa Harlowe (7 vol., 1747–48), the tragic story of a girl who runs off with her seducer, regarded today as his best work, and The History of Sir Charles Grandison (7 vol., 1753–54). All Richardson's novels were enormously popular in their day. Although he was a verbose and sentimental storyteller, his role as a literary pioneer, his emphasis on detail, his psychological insights into women, and his dramatic technique have earned him a prominent place among English novelists.

See his correspondence, ed. by A. L. Barbauld (6 vol., 1804; repr. 1966); biographies by T. C. Duncan Eaves and B. D. Kimpel (1971) and J. Harris (1987); studies by J. W. Krutch (1930, repr. 1959), J. J. Carroll (1969), M. Kinkead-Weekes (1973), C. G. Wolff (1973), W. B. Warner (1979), C. H. Flynn (1982), M. Doody and P. Sabor, ed. (1989), and L. Curran (2016).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Samuel Richardson: Selected full-text books and articles

FREE! Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded By Samuel Richardson Century, 1904
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Pamela's Daughters By Gwendolyn Bridges Needham; Robert Palfrey Utter The Macmillan Company, 1936
Virtue, Gender, and the Authentic Self in Eighteenth-Century Fiction: Richardson, Rousseau, and Laclos By Christine Roulston University Press of Florida, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 1 "'The Letter in My Bosom': Pamela" and Chap. 2 "'Let Me Have Pen, and Ink': Clarissa"
The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding By Ian Watt University of California Press, 1957
Librarian's tip: Chap. VII "Richardson as Novelist: 'Clarissa'"
Epistolary Responses: The Letter in 20th-Century American Fiction and Criticism By Anne Bower University of Alabama Press, 1997
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "Relettering: Upton Sinclair's Another Pamela Responds to Samuel Richardson's Pamela"
"I Am Become a Mere Usurer": Pamela and Domestic Stock-Jobbing By Ingrassia, Catherine Studies in the Novel, Vol. 30, No. 3, Fall 1998
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Crossing Borders in Samuel Richardson's Clarissa; or, the "Ladder of Dependance" Revisited By Dachez, Helene Studies in the Literary Imagination, Vol. 36, No. 2, Fall 2003
Sentiment, Authority, and the Female Body in the Novels of Samuel Richardson By Fasick, Laura Essays in Literature, Vol. 19, No. 2, Fall 1992
The Sentimental Novel in America, 1789-1860 By Herbert Ross Brown Duke University Press, 1940
Librarian's tip: Chap. II "Richardson and Seduction"
Women and Property in the Eighteenth-Century English Novel By April London Cambridge University Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: Part I "Section One: Samuel Richardson and Georgic"
Learning to Read Richardson: 'Pamela,' 'Speaking Pictures,' and the Visual Hermeneutic By Brown, Murray L Studies in the Novel, Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 1993
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Five Masters: A Study in the Mutations of the Novel By Joseph Wood Krutch Jonathan Cape & Harrison Smith, 1930
Librarian's tip: "Samuel Richardson" begins on p. 109
Love and Death in the American Novel By Leslie A. Fiedler Stein and Day, 1966 (Revised edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "Richardson and the Tragedy of Seduction"
The Columbia History of the British Novel By John J. Richetti; John Bender; Deirdre David; Michael Seidel Columbia University Press, 1994
Librarian's tip: "Richardson and His Circle" begins on p. 73
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