RICHARDSON, SAMUEL (1689-1760, English novelist, was the son of a London joiner, who, for obscure reasons, prob ably connected with Monmouth's rebellion, had retired to Derby shire, where, in 1689, Samuel was born. He was apprenticed at seventeen to an Aldersgate printer named John Wilde. Here he became successively compositor, corrector of the press, and printer on his own account ; married his master's daughter accord ing to programme; set up newspapers and books; dabbled a little in literature by compiling indexes and "honest dedications," and ultimately became Printer of the Journals of the House of Commons, Master of the Stationers' Company, and Law-Printer to the King. Like all well-to-do citizens, he had his city house of business and his "country box" in the suburbs ; and, after a thoroughly "respectable" life, died on July 4, 1761, being buried in St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street, close to his shop (now demol ished), No. 11 Salisbury Court.
The origin of Pamela dates back to a request from Rivington of St. Paul's Churchyard and Osborn of Paternoster Row, two book-selling friends who were aware of Richardson's epistolary gifts, to suggest that he should prepare a little model letter-writer for such "country readers" as "were unable to indite for them selves." The result was Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded. He com pleted it in a couple of months (Nov. io, 1739 to Jan. 16, 174o). In Nov. 174o it was issued by Messrs. Rivington and Osborn, who, a few weeks afterward (Jan. 1741), also published the model letter-writer under the title of Letters written to and for Particular Friends, on the most Important Occasions. Both books were anonymous. The letter-writer was noticed in the Gentleman's Magazine for January, which also contains a brief announcement as to Pamela, already rapidly making its way without waiting for the reviewers. A second edition, it was stated, was expected; and such was its popularity, that not to have read it was judged "as great a sign of want of curiosity as not to have seen the French and Italian dancers"—i.e., Mme. Chateauneuf and the Fausans, who were then delighting the town. In February a second edition duly appeared, followed by a third in March and a fourth in May. At public gardens ladies held up the book to show they had got it; Dr. Benjamin Slocock of Southwark openly commended it
from the pulpit ; Pope praised it ; and at Slough, when the heroine triumphed, the enraptured villagers rang the church bells for joy. The other volume of "familiar letters" consequently fell into the background in the estimation of its author, who, though it went into several editions during his lifetime, never acknowl edged it.
Such a popularity, of course, was not without its drawbacks. That it would lead to Anti-Pamelas, censures of Pamela and all the spawn of pamphlets which spring round the track of a sud den success, was to be anticipated. One of the results to which its rather sickly morality gave rise was the Joseph Andrews ( 1 74 2) of Fielding (q.v.). But there are two other works prompted by Pamela which need brief notice here. One is the Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews, a clever and very gross piece of raillery which appeared in April 1741, and by which Fielding is supposed to have alluded to Joseph Andrews. The second note worthy result of Pamela was Pamela's Conduct in High Life (Sept. 1741), a spurious sequel by John Kelly of the Universal Spectator. Richardson tried to prevent its appearance, and, hav ing failed, set about two volumes of his own, which followed in December, and professed to depict his heroine "in her exalted condition." It attracted no permanent attention.
About 1744 we begin to hear something of the progress of Richardson's second and greatest novel, Clarissa; or the History of a Young Lady, usually miscalled Clarissa Harlowe. The first edition was in seven volumes, two of which came out in Nov. two more in April 1748 and the last three in December Upon the title-page of this, of which the mission was as edifying as that of Pamela, its object was defined as showing the distresses that may attend the misconduct both of parents and children in relation to marriage. Virtue, in Clarissa, is not "rewarded," but hunted down and outraged. The chief drawbacks of Clarissa are its merciless prolixity (seven volumes, which cover only II months) ; the fact that (like Pamela) it is told by letters; and a certain haunting and uneasy feeling that many of the heroine's obstacles are only molehills which should have been readily sur mounted.