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Samuel Richardson

Samuel Richardson was born in Derbyshire in 1689. His family move to London when he was ten and when he was thirteen he already had clear skills as a story-teller and letter-writing. He started working as an apprentice at a printer when he was seventeen and at thirty-two years old he set up his own printing shop. At fifty he was appointed to writing a volume of model letters and while he was working at it he developed the theme of a story and started writing his first epistolary novel “Pamela”. His personal life was unfortunate, his wife dying ten years after their marriage and his six children all dying young. He had other six children from his second wife and only four of his daughters survived their father. Richardson died in 1761.
His novels were characterized by a domestic middle-class setting and by a heavy moralizing tendency which reflected the puritan middle-class models of reward for the virtuous and punishment for the sinners. The novels were representations of modesty and good manners. Richardson believed that man and woman had to behave in the same way toward one another and he rejected the old morality which was far stricter for woman, in particular from a sexual point of view. He also believed that women should become useful members of the Christian community.

Richardson’s novel dealt a lot with the psychological characterization and individual development of their protagonists who evolved as the story-line develops. The heroines of his stories were young, charming and witted.
The epistolary novel of Richardson, characterized by an exchange of letters between the main characters, gave realism to the story as it was a reflection of the actual trend of letter-writing characterizing the period. This is a form that uses the first-person narrative technique providing different points of view on the same circumstances. As the story develops by means of letters, the action is divided into a series of scenes without a general framework.

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