Henry Fielding

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Born: April 22, 1707
Died: October 8, 1754


Novelist, dramatist and satarist Henry Fielding wrote for Tory periodicals, usually under the name of "Captain Hercules Vinegar". As Justice of the Peace, and not as an author, he issued a warrant for the arrest of Colley Cibber for "murder of the English language" 1

Fielding's first major success in a novel was Shamela, an anonymous parody of Samuel Richardson's melodramatic novel, Pamela. It is a satire that follows the model of the famous Tory satirists of the previous generation (Jonathan Swift and John Gay, in particular). He followed this up with Joseph Andrews (1742), an original work supposedly dealing with Pamela's brother, Joseph. Although also begun as a parody, this work developed into an accomplished novel in its own right and is considered to mark Fielding's debut as a serious novelist. In 1743, he published a novel in the Miscellanies volume III (which was the first volume of the Miscellanies). This was The History of the Life of the Late Mr Jonathan Wild the Great. This novel is sometimes thought of as his first because he almost certainly began composing it before he wrote Shamela and Joseph Andrews. It is a satire of Walpole that draws a parallel between Walpole and Jonathan Wild, the infamous gang leader and highwayman. He implicitly compares the Whig party in Parliament with a gang of thieves, being run by Walpole, whose constant desire to be a "Great Man" (a common epithet for Walpole) should culminate only in the apotheosis of greatness: being hung.2

His greatest work was Tom Jones (1749), a meticulously constructed picaresque novel telling the convoluted and hilarious tale of how a foundling came into a fortune.3

For further information you are referred to the Wikipedia Article from which the above information was obtained



Notes:
  • 1 : This probably was very topical and funny at the time
  • 2 : Sounds like a great big barrel of laughs
  • 3 : Obviously a different definition of "greatest work" than most people use