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"Henry Fielding (1707-1754) was born at Sharpham Park in Somerset in 1707. In London, between 1729 and 1739, he wrote some twenty-five dramatic pieces including a series of topical satires which lampooned Sir Robert Walpole and his government. It was partly as a reaction to these that Walpole introduced the Stage Licensing Act in 1737, which effectively ended Fielding's career as a dramatist.
"His novel writing career began with Shamela in 1741, a burlesque written in reaction to what he saw as the smug morality propounded by Richardson's Pamela. In the following year he published his own alternative conception of the art and purpose of the novel, Joseph Andrews, which achieved immediate popularity.
"His masterpiece Tom Jones, one of the great comic novels in English literature, was published in 1749. Partly in recognition of his work as a political journalist Fielding was commissioned as a justice of the peace for Westminster and, despite his rapidly degenerating health, he devoted the last years of his life to fighting crime. He died in Lisbon on 8 October 1754."
This is a project of the Department of English and the Faculty of Arts and Science, funded by the Provost's Electronic Courseware Fund. The University of Toronto English Library was created by Ian Lancashire, Christopher Douglas, and Dennis G. Jerz. We wish to thank the University of Toronto Information Commons, and the members of the Centre for Academic Technology, especially John Bradley, Ian Graham, and Allen Forsyth. See individual Works pages for other credits.
The author portrait is a sketch by Hogarth, and was used as a frontpiece to the 1762 Works. (Source: Jenny Uglow. Henry Fielding. London: Northcote House, 1995. page ii. PR 3457 U35 1995 ROBA.)
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