Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)
ph_0111201621-Richardson.jpg Samuel Richardson Published by Salem Press, Inc.

In addition to the three novels on which his fame and reputation rest, Samuel Richardson’s best-known work is a collection of fictitious letters that constitutes a kind of eighteenth century book of etiquette, social behavior, manners, and mores: Letters Written to and for Particular Friends, on the Most Important Occasions (1741), customarily referred to as Familiar Letters. It had been preceded, in 1733, by a handbook of instruction concerning the relationship between apprentices and master printers, which grew out of a letter Richardson had written to a nephew in 1731, The Apprentice’s Vade Mecum: Or, Young Man’s Pocket Companion (1733). Throughout his life, Richardson, like so many of his contemporaries, was a prolific letter writer; notable selections of his correspondence include six volumes edited by his contemporary and early biographer, Anna L. Barbauld, the first of which was published in 1804, and his correspondence with Johannes Stinstra, the Dutch translator of his novels to whom Richardson had sent a considerably important amount of autobiographical material. Of only minor interest is Richardson’s A Collection of the Moral and Instructive Sentiments, Maxims, Cautions, and Reflexions, Contained in the Histories of Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison, published anonymously in 1755, a series of excerpts emphasizing his conviction that “instruction was a more important obligation to the novelist than entertainment.”