Picture of author.

Samuel Richardson (1) (1689–1761)

Author of Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded

For other authors named Samuel Richardson, see the disambiguation page.

126+ Works 5,140 Members 86 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

A printer and bookseller who wrote love letters for servant girls as an apprentice, studied nights to improve himself, and married the boss's daughter, Samuel Richardson undertook at age 50 to write a book of sample courtesy notes, marriage proposals, job applications, and business letters for show more young people. While imagining situations for this book, he recalled an old scandal and developed it into Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740--44), a novel about a servant girl whose firmness, vitality, literacy, and superior intelligence turn her master's lust into a decorous love that leads to their marriage. All of Pamela's virtues of fresh characterization, immediacy (what Richardson called "writing to the moment" of the character's consciousness), and the involvement of the reader in the character's intense and fluctuating fantasies, together with a much more focused seriousness, a more varied and differentiated cast of letter writers, and a more fundamental examination of moral and social issues, make his second novel, Clarissa Hawlowe (1747--48), a masterpiece. Although anyone who reads this huge novel for its plot may hang himself (as Richardson's friend Samuel Johnson said), readers have been fascinated by the complex conflict between Clarissa Harlowe and Robert Lovelace, two of the most fully realized characters, psychologically and socially, in all of literature. Like such great successors as Rousseau (see Vol. 3), an acknowledged follower of Richardson, Dostoevsky (see Vol. 2), and D. H. Lawrence, Richardson understands and shows us, in Diderot's (see Vols. 2 and 4) appreciative image, the black recesses of the cave of the mind. Although Richardson's last novel, Sir Charles Grandison (1753--54), like Pamela Part II , mainly undertakes comic delineation of manners, it also examines the serious issues of love between a Protestant and a Catholic, and experiments technically with flashbacks, with stenographic reports, and most assertively with a pure hero, a male Clarissa of irresistible charm and power. At its best, Richardson's work fuses the epistolary technique, the use of dramatic scenes, the traditions of religious biography, and the elements of current romantic fiction to achieve precise analysis, an air of total verisimilitude, and a vision of a world of primal psychological forces in conflict. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Samuel Richardson

Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded (1740) 2,588 copies, 43 reviews
Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady (1747) 1,513 copies, 28 reviews
Sir Charles Grandison (1753) 122 copies, 1 review
Pamela, Volume One (Everyman's Library) (1927) 94 copies, 1 review
Pamela/Shamela (1980) 52 copies
Pamela vol 2 (1935) 38 copies
Early works (2012) 6 copies
Selected Letters of Samuel Richardson (1964) — Author — 3 copies
Äsopische Fabeln (1987) 2 copies
Clarissa - Volume 4 (2019) 1 copy
Clarissa - Volume 1 (2019) 1 copy
Pamela. Volume 1 Only (1955) 1 copy

Associated Works

Eighteenth-Century English Literature (1969) — Author — 188 copies
Charlotte Temple [Norton Critical Edition] (2010) — Contributor — 42 copies, 4 reviews


Common Knowledge



Group read - Clarissa by Samuel Richardson in 75 Books Challenge for 2012 (December 2012)
[Pamela], by Samuel Richardson in 1001 Books to read before you die (December 2007)


Reason read: year long read 2023, Reading 1001
This was difficult to engage in initially. I liken it to the soap opera of the 1800s. But the middle section improved and I finally engaged in the book. It is a story of gender roles, sibling rivalry/greed, a family that becomes torn apart without a willingness to find a resolution to the conflict. To the gender role; women have little resources and men have freedoms. It also is a picture of a great friendship between two young ladies. I did wonder at what could have caused Clarissa's health to decline, there is no hint other than the aspect of trauma on the physical health of a young lady.

I am happy to have read this book. I read it on Kindle and also used Librovox recordings occasionally.
… (more)
Kristelh | 27 other reviews | Dec 1, 2023 |
This was 1533 pages worth of a total slog, during which I admit to a lot of skimming. It is SO repetitive.

Plot spoilers ahead, but really, you're not going to read all 1500 pages and it's all pretty predictable, so no worries . . .

Young, beautiful, virtuous Clarissa is being pressured by her family to marry a man she has no love for and can't respect so that they can get their hands on the money she inherited from her grandfather. Instead she falls into the hands of the young and handsome Lovelace, who helps her escape from her family, though everyone (Clarissa included) knows he is not to be trusted. This proves to be true to an amazing extent as he kidnaps Clarissa, keeps her isolated, tries to force her into marrying him, and ultimately rapes her twice.

This novel is all told in the form of letters. And, like I said earlier, it's incredibly repetitive. The whole thing could have easily happened, even with a lot of detail and development, in about 200 pages. I know this is a considered an important work in the development of the novel, but I did not enjoy reading it.
… (more)
japaul22 | 27 other reviews | Nov 14, 2023 |
I think I may have the patience and lack of rage necessary to write a review on this novel someday... but that day is a long ways away from this one.
BreePye | 1 other review | Oct 6, 2023 |
Read my profile description for rating explanation. You should have a good reason to read this book. I don't advise picking it up on a lark.

That said, I foolishly read it in its entirety and here are a few choice selections:

"Oh! what a poor thing is human life in its best enjoyments! subjected to imaginary evils, when it has no real ones to disturb it; and that can be made as effectually unhappy by its apprehensions of remote contingencies, as if it was struggling with the pangs of a present distress! This, duly reflected upon, methinks, should convince every one, that this world is not a place for the immortal mind to be confined to; and that there must be an hereafter, where the whole soul shall be satisfied."

In that passage, the author gives good advice. But don't be fooled -- the evil of this book is not imaginary. Don't waste your time unless your studies require it. Another:

"I am persuaded that fear brings one into more dangers, than the caution, that goes along with it, delivers one from."

Not a bad point. This may undermine my recommendation to avoid this novel, but take my word for it, this book is the exception that proves that rule.

It's clear why it was such a bestseller at the time. It's charms are decidedly wasted on modern readers. I recommend reality TV instead.

Also, I have hunches (thanks to a friend's suggestion) that Sex and the City is loosely inspired by this book, but I don't want to waste any more time on this novel by looking for any writings on the matter.
… (more)
invisiblecityzen | 42 other reviews | Mar 13, 2022 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by

Charts & Graphs