Samuel Richardson is often considered one of the fathers of the English novel.
He grew up in a family of modest means and could receive only an average education.
He showed no intention of becoming a writer until he was over fifty, but he had been interested for years in “epistolary correspondence”, and had been often commissioned by young ladies to compose or improve their love letters.
Richardson then developed the idea of writing a manual of letter-writing, that came out in 1741.
In the meanwhile he had the inspiration to write his famous epistolary novel “Pamela”.
Pamela’s personality is a mix of innocence and determination, that emerge while she reports every detail of Mr. B’s passion and her resistance.
The novel was an enormous success at the time and it also created a new fashion in fiction, which is the “novel of sensibility”. Despite criticism, Pamela also underlined the distinction between male and female roles in society.
His next novel is called “Clarissa” or “History of a Young Lady”, and it is an example not only of epistolary novel, but also of the novel of sentiment.
Richardson used four major letter writers to provide multiple views that help build the intricacies of the plot.