Samuel Richardson (August 19, 1689 - July 04, 1761)
Born: 19th August, 1689
Died: 4th July, 1761
Nationality: English
Profession/Occupation: Novelist
Region: England, near London
Notable works: "Clarissa", "Pamela", "The History of Sir Charles Grandison", "Familiar Letters on Important Occasions"

Samuel Richardson Facts

Biography

Samuel Richardson, (baptized Aug. 19, 1689, Mackworth, near Derby, Derbyshire, Eng.--died July 4, 1761, Parson's Green, near London), English novelist who expanded the dramatic possibilities of the novel by his invention and use of the letter form ("epistolary novel"). His major novels were Pamela (1740) and Clarissa (1747-48).

Richardson was 50 years old when he wrote Pamela, but of his first 50 years little is known. His ancestors were of yeoman stock. His father, also Samuel, and his mother's father, Stephen Hall, became London tradesmen, and his father, after the death of his first wife, married Stephen's daughter, Elizabeth, in 1682. A temporary move of the Richardsons to Derbyshire accounts for the fact that the novelist was born in Mackworth. They returned to London when Richardson was 10. He had at best what he called "only Common School-Learning." The perceived inadequacy of his education was later to preoccupy him and some of his critics.

Richardson was bound apprentice to a London printer, John Wilde. Sometime after completing his apprenticeship he became associated with the Leakes, a printing family whose presses he eventually took over when he set up in business for himself in 1721 and married Martha Wilde, the daughter of his master. Elizabeth Leake, the sister of a prosperous bookseller of Bath, became his second wife in 1733, two years after Martha's death. His domestic life was marked by tragedy. All six of the children from his first marriage died in infancy or childhood. By his second wife he had four daughters who survived him, but two other children died in infancy. These and other bereavements contributed to the nervous ailments of his later life.

In his professional life Richardson was hardworking and successful. With the growth in prominence of his press went his steady increase in prestige as a member, an officer, and later master, of the Stationers' Company (the guild for those in the book trade). During the 1730s his press became known as one of the three best in London, and with prosperity he moved to a more spacious London house and leased the first of three country houses in which he entertained a circle of friends that included Dr. Johnson, the painter William Hogarth, the actors Colley Cibber and David Garrick, Edward Young, and Arthur Onslow, speaker of the House of Commons, whose influence in 1733 helped to secure for Richardson lucrative contracts for government printing that later included the journals of the House.

In this same decade he began writing in a modest way. At some point, he was commissioned to write a collection of letters that might serve as models for "country readers," a volume that has become known as Familiar Letters on Important Occasions. Occasionally he hit upon continuing the same subject from one letter to another, and, after a letter from "a father to a daughter in service, on hearing of her master's attempting her virtue," he supplied the daughter's answer. This was the germ of his novel Pamela. With a method supplied by the letter writer and a plot by a story that he remembered of an actual serving maid who preserved her virtue and was, ostensibly, rewarded by marriage, he began writing the work in November 1739 and published it as Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded a year later.

Most of the story is told by the heroine herself. On the death of Pamela's mistress, her son, Mr. B, begins a series of stratagems designed to end in Pamela's seduction. These failing, he abducts her and then uses an elaborate ruse that results in a threatened, if not attempted, rape. Pamela faints, and, when she recovers, Mr. B claims "that he had not offer'd the least Indecency"; he soon afterward offers marriage. In the second half of the novel Richardson shows Pamela winning over those who had disapproved of the misalliance. Though Pamela was immensely popular, Richardson was criticized by those who thought his heroine a calculating social climber or his own morality dubious. Pamela is, ultimately, a 15-year-old servant who, by Richardson's telling, faces a dilemma because she wants to preserve her virtue without losing the man with whom she herself has fallen in love (and whose family employs her). More obliquely, because he wrote the novel from Pamela's point of view, Richardson also seems to suggest that Mr. B is struggling with having fallen in love with a servant, who, traditionally, would have been merely a target for seduction or sexual violence. (In a clever twist, he is converted by her letters, which he has been intercepting and reading.) The author resolved the conflicts of both characters too facilely, perhaps, because he was firmly committed to the plot of the true story he had remembered. When the instantaneous popularity of Pamela led to a spurious continuation of her story, he wrote his own sequel, Pamela in her Exalted Condition (1742), a two-volume work that did little to enhance his reputation.

By 1744 Richardson seems to have completed a first draft of his second novel, Clarissa; or, The History of a Young Lady, but he spent three years trying to bring it within the compass of the seven volumes in which it was published. He first presents the heroine, Clarissa Harlowe, when she is discovering the barely masked motives of her family, who would force her into a loveless marriage to improve their fortunes. Outside the orbit of the Harlowes stands Lovelace, nephew of Lord M and a romantic who held the code of the Harlowes in contempt. In her desperate straits, Clarissa appraises too highly the qualities that set Lovelace beyond the world of her family, and, when he offers protection, she runs off with him. She is physically attracted by if not actually in love with Lovelace and is responsive to the wider horizons of his world, but she is to discover that he wants her only on his own terms. In Lovelace's letters to his friend Belford, Richardson shows that what is driving him to conquest and finally to rape is really her superiority. In the correspondence of Clarissa and her friend Anna Howe, Richardson shows the distance that separates her from her confidant, who thinks her quixotic in not accepting a marriage; but marriage as a way out would have been a sacrifice to that same consciousness of human dignity that had led her to defy her family. As the novel comes to its long-drawn-out close, she is removed from the world of both the Harlowes and the Lovelaces, and dies, a child of heaven. In providing confidants for his central characters and in refusing to find a place in the social structure into which to fit his sorely beset heroine, Richardson made his greatest advances over Pamela. He was determined, as his postscript indicates, to write a novel that was also a tragedy.

Richardson's third novel was his bow to requests for the hero as a good man, a counter-attraction to the errant hero of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749). Fielding had been among those who thought Pamela a scheming social climber, as he had shown in his parody An Apology for the life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews (1741). In spite of Fielding's critical praise of Clarissa and the friendship that later developed between Richardson and Fielding's sister, Sarah, Richardson never forgave the author of what he stigmatized as "that vile Pamphlet Shamela." In The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753-54), he provides a hero who is a model of benevolence. He faces little that a good heart cannot remedy and extricates himself from the nearest thing to a dilemma that he has to encounter: a "divided love" between an English woman, Harriet Byron, and an Italian, Signora Clementina. He is saved for Harriet by the last-minute refusal of the Roman Catholic Clementina to marry a firmly committed English churchman. The uneasy minds of Clementina and Harriet are explored with some penetration, but Sir Charles faces nothing in his society or within himself that requires much of a struggle. Furthermore, his dilemma is not so central to the novel as were those of Pamela and Clarissa. He is surrounded with a large cast of characters who have their parts to play in social comedy that anticipates the novel of manners of the late 18th century.

Richardson was an indefatigable reviser of his own work, and the various editions of his novels differ greatly. Much of his revision was undertaken in anxious, self-censoring response to criticism; the earliest versions of his novels are generally the freshest and most daring.

Richardson's Pamela is often credited with being the first English novel. Although the validity of this claim depends on the definition of the term novel, it is not disputed that Richardson was innovative in his concentration on a single action. By telling the story in the form of letters, he provided if not the "stream" at least the flow of consciousness of his characters, and he pioneered in showing how his characters' sense of class differences and their awareness of the conflict between sexual instincts and the moral code created dilemmas that could not always be resolved. These characteristics reappear regularly in the subsequent history of the novel. Above all, Richardson was the writer who made the novel a respectable genre.

Richardson had disciples when he died. Some of them show the influence of Clarissa, which seems to have been most responsible for the cult of Richardson that arose on the European continent. It was Grandison, however, that set the tone of most of Richardson's English followers and for Jane Austen, who was said to have remembered "every circumstance" in this novel, everything "that was ever said or done." By the end of the 18th century, Richardson's reputation was on the wane both in England and abroad. However, it was reborn in the late 20th century, when Clarissa was rediscovered as one of the great psychological novels of European literature.

Top 82 Samuel Richardson quotes

Calamity is the test of integrity.
Calamity
Integrity
Test
For the human mind is seldom at stay: If you do not grow better, you will most undoubtedly grow worse.
Better
Grow
Human
Human mind
Mind
Most
Seldom
Stay
Undoubtedly
Will
Worse
You
It is better to be thought perverse than insincere.
Better
Insincere
Perverse
Than
Thought
There hardly can be a greater difference between any two men, than there too often is, between the same man, a lover and a husband.
Any
Between
Difference
Greater
Hardly
Husband
Lover
Man
Men
Often
Same
Than
Too
Two
To be a clergyman, and all that is compassionate and virtuous, ought to be the same thing.
Compassionate
Ought
Same
Same thing
Thing
Virtuous
A man may keep a woman, but not his estate.
Estate
His
Keep
Man
May
Woman
Marry first, and love will come after is a shocking assertion; since a thousand things may happen to make the state but barely tolerable, when it is entered into with mutual affection.
Affection
After
Assertion
Barely
Come
Entered
First
Happen
Love
Make
Marry
May
Mutual
Shocking
Would Alexander, madman as he was, have been so much a madman, had it not been for Homer?
Alexander
Been
Had
He
Homer
Madman
Much
Would
Women do not often fall in love with philosophers.
Fall
Love
Often
Philosophers
Women
Women love to be called cruel, even when they are kindest.
Cruel
Even
Love
Women
Shame is a fitter and generally a more effectual punishment for a child than beating.
Beating
Child
Effectual
Generally
More
Punishment
Shame
Than
Vast is the field of Science. The more a man knows, the more he will find he has to know.
Field
Find
He
Know
Knows
Man
More
Science
Vast
Will
Married people should not be quick to hear what is said by either when in ill humor.
Either
Hear
Humor
Ill
Married
Married people
People
Quick
Said
Should
O! what a Godlike Power is that of doing Good! I envy the Rich and the Great for nothing else!
Doing
Doing good
Else
Envy
Godlike
Good
Great
Nothing
Power
Rich
All human excellence is but comparative. There may be persons who excel us, as much as we fancy we excel the meanest.
Comparative
Excel
Excellence
Fancy
Human
May
Meanest
Much
Persons
Us
Who
Every scholar, I presume, is not, necessarily, a man of sense.
Every
Man
Necessarily
Presume
Scholar
Sense
The life of a good man is a continual warfare with his passions.
A good man
Good
Good man
His
Life
Man
Passions
Warfare
Those we dislike can do nothing to please us.
Dislike
Nothing
Please
Those
Us
Those who can least bear a jest upon themselves, will be most diverted with one passed on others.
Bear
Jest
Least
Most
Others
Passed
Themselves
Those
Who
Will
What likelihood is there of corrupting a man who has no ambition?
Ambition
Likelihood
Man
Who
Men will bear many things from a kept mistress, which they would not bear from a wife.
Bear
Kept
Many
Men
Mistress
Things
Which
Wife
Will
Would
A husband's mother and his wife had generally better be visitors than inmates.
Better
Generally
Had
His
Husband
Mother
Than
Visitors
Wife
The companion of an evening, and the companion for life, require very different qualifications.
Companion
Different
Evening
Life
Qualifications
Require
Very
The laws were not made so much for the direction of good men, as to circumscribe the bad.
Bad
Direction
Good
Good men
Laws
Made
Men
Much
Were
Necessity may well be called the mother of invention but calamity is the test of integrity.
Calamity
Integrity
Invention
May
Mother
Necessity
Test
Well
People who act like angels ought to have angels to deal with.
Act
Angels
Deal
Like
Ought
People
Who
Love is not a volunteer thing.
Love
Love is
Thing
Volunteer
A widow's refusal of a lover is seldom so explicit as to exclude hope.
Exclude
Explicit
Hope
Lover
Refusal
Seldom
Widow
Nothing in human nature is so God-like as the disposition to do good to our fellow-creatures.
Disposition
Good
Human
Human nature
Nature
Nothing
Our
Parents sometimes make not those allowances for youth, which, when young, they wished to be made for themselves.
Made
Make
Parents
Sometimes
Themselves
Those
Which
Wished
Young
Youth
What we want to tell, we wish our friend to have curiosity to hear.
Curiosity
Friend
Hear
Our
Tell
Want
Wish
Nothing dries sooner than tears.
Nothing
Sooner
Tears
Than
Let a man do what he will by a single woman, the world is encouragingly apt to think Marriage a sufficient amends.
Amends
Apt
He
Man
Marriage
Single
Sufficient
Think
Will
Woman
World
Love gratified is love satisfied, and love satisfied is indifference begun.
Begun
Gratified
Indifference
Love
Satisfied
The pleasures of the mighty are obtained by the tears of the poor.
Mighty
Obtained
Pleasures
Poor
Tears
Prejudices in disfavor of a person fix deeper, and are much more difficult to be removed, than prejudices in favor.
Deeper
Difficult
Favor
Fix
More
Much
Person
Prejudices
Than
A Stander-by is often a better judge of the game than those that play.
Better
Game
Judge
Often
Play
Than
Those
Men generally are afraid of a wife who has more understanding than themselves.
Afraid
Generally
Men
More
Than
Themselves
Understanding
Who
Wife
Love before marriage is absolutely necessary.
Absolutely
Before
Love
Marriage
Necessary
Those who have least to do are generally the most busy people in the world.
Busy
Generally
Least
Most
People
Those
Who
World
Those who will bear much, shall have much to bear.
Bear
Much
Shall
Those
Who
Will
A beautiful woman must expect to be more accountable for her steps, than one less attractive.
Accountable
Attractive
Beautiful
Beautiful woman
Expect
Her
Less
More
Must
Steps
Than
Woman
Great allowances ought to be made for the petulance of persons laboring under ill-health.
Great
Made
Ought
Persons
The World, thinking itself affronted by superior merit, takes delight to bring it down to its own level.
Bring
Delight
Down
Itself
Level
Merit
Own
Superior
Takes
Thinking
World
Sorrow makes an ugly face odious.
Face
Makes
Odious
Sorrow
Ugly
A good man, though he will value his own countrymen, yet will think as highly of the worthy men of every nation under the sun.
A good man
Countrymen
Every
Every nation
Good
Good man
He
Highly
His
Man
Men
Nation
Own
Sun
Every one, more or less, loves Power, yet those who most wish for it are seldom the fittest to be trusted with it.
Every
Fittest
Less
Loves
More
More or less
Most
Power
Seldom
Those
Trusted
Who
Wish
People of little understanding are most apt to be angry when their sense is called into question.
Angry
Apt
Little
Most
People
Question
Sense
Understanding
There would be no supporting life were we to feel quite as poignantly for others as we do for ourselves.
Feel
Life
Others
Ourselves
Quite
Supporting
Were
Would
Would-be
Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal.
Deal
Eyes
Great
Great deal
Often
Restrained
Talk
Where
Words

Samuel Richardson essays

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