Author Richardson Samuel

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Samuel Richardson (19 August 1689 – 4 July 1761) was an 18th-century English writer and printer. He is best known for his three epistolary novels: Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded (1740), Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady (1748) and The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753). Outside of his writing career, Richardson was an established printer and publisher for most of his life and printed almost 500 different works and various journals and magazines. During his printing career, Richardson was to experience the death of his first wife along with their five sons, and eventually remarry. Although with his second wife he had four daughters who lived to become adults, they never had a male heir to continue running the printing business. Although his print shop slowly faded away, his legacy was certain when, at the age of 51, he wrote his first novel and immediately became one of the most popular and admired writers of his time. He was surrounded by some of the leading figures in 18th ce


ntury England, including Samuel Johnson and Sarah Fielding. Although he was known by most members of the London literary community, he was rivals with Henry Fielding, and the two started responding to each other's literary styles in their own novels. Richardson, one of nine siblings, was born in 1689 in Mackworth, Derbyshire, to Samuel and Elizabeth Richardson.[1] It is unsure where in Derbyshire he was born because Richardson always concealed the location.[1] The older Richardson was, according to the younger: "a very honest man, descended of a family of middling note, in the country of Surrey, but which having for several generations a large number of children, the not large possessions were split and divided, so that he and his brothers were put to trades; and the sisters were married to tradesmen."[2] His mother, according to Richardson, "was also a good woman, of a family not ungenteel; but whose father and mother died in her infancy, within half-an-hour of each other, in the London pestilence of 1665".[3] The trade his father pursued was that of a joiner (a type of carpenter, but Richardson explains that it was "then more distinct from that of a carpenter than now it is with us").[1] In describing his father's occupation, Richardson stated that "he was a good draughtsman and understood architecture", and it was suggested by Samuel Richardson's son-in-law that the senior Richardson was a cabinetmaker and an exporter of mahogany while working at Aldersgate-street.[1] The abilities and position of his father brought him to the attention of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth.[3] However this, as Richardson claims, was to Richardson senior's "great detriment" because the loss of the Monmouth Rebellion, which ended in the death of the Scott in 1685. After Scott's death, the elder Richardson was forced to abandon his business in London and live a modest life in Derbyshire.[3] The Richardsons were not constantly exiled from London, but they eventually returned for the young Richardson was educated at Christ's Hospital grammar school.[4] The extent that he was educated at the school is uncertain, and Leigh Hunt wrote years later: "It is a fact not generally known that Richardson... received what education he had (which was very little, and did not go beyond English) at Christ's Hospital. It may be wondered how he could come no better taught from a school which had sent forth so many good scholars; but in his time, and indeed till very lately, that foundation was divided into several schools, none of which partook of the lessons of the others; and Richardson, agreeably to his father's intention of bringing him up to trade, was most probably confined to the writing school, where all that was taught was writing and arithmetic."[5] However, this conflicts with Richardson's nephew's account that "'it is certain that [Richardson] was never sent to a more respectable seminary' than 'a private grammar school" located in Derbyshire".[6] There is little known of Richardson's of his early years beyond the few things that Richardson was willing to share.[6] Although he was not forthcoming with specific events and incidents, he did talk about the origins of his writing ability; Richardson would tell stories to his friends and spent his youth constantly writing letters.[7] One such letter, when Richardson was almost 11, was directed to a woman in her 50s that would constantly criticize others, and, after "assuming the style and address of a person in years", wrote her a letter which cautioned her about her actions.[7] However, his handwriting was used to determine that it was the young Richardson's, and she complained to his mother.[7] The result was, as he explains, that "my mother chid me for the freedom taken by such a boy with a woman of her years" but also "commended my principles, though she censured the liberty taken".[7] After his writing ability was known, he began to help others in the community write letters.[8] In particular, Richardson, at the age of thirteen, helped many of the girls that he associated with to write responses to various love letters that they received.[8] As Richardson claims, "I have been directed to chide, and even repulse, when an offence was either taken or given, at the very time that the heart of the chider or repulser was open before me, overflowing with esteem and affect".[8] Although this helped his writing ability, he cautioned in 1753 to the Dutch minister Stinstra to not draw to great a conclusion from these early actions: "You think, Sir, you can account from my early secretaryship to young women in my father's neighbourhood, for the characters I have drawn of the heroines of my three works. But this opportunity did little more for me, at so tender an age, than point, as I may say, or lead my enquiries, as I grew up, into the knowledge of female heart."[9] He continued to explain that he did not fully understand females until after he was writing Clarissa, and these letters were only a small beginning.[9] The elder Richardson originally wanted his son to become a clergyman, but he was not able to afford the education that the younger Richardson would require, so he let his son pick his own profession.[9] He selected the profession of printing because he hoped to "gratify a thirst for reading, which, in after years, he disclaimed".[9] At the age of seventeen, in 1706, Richardson was bound in seven-year apprenticeship under John Wilde as a printer. Wilde's printing shop was in Golden Lion Court on Aldersgate Street, and Wilde had a reputation as "a master who grudged every hour... that tended not to his profit".[10] While working for Wilde, he met a rich gentleman who took an interest in Richardson's writing abilities and the two began to correspond with each other. When the gentleman died a few years later, Richardson lost a potential patron, which delayed his ability to pursue his own writing career. He decided to devote himself completely to his apprenticeship, and he worked his way up to a position as a compositor and a corrector of the shop's printing press.[12] In 1713, Richardson left Wilde to become "Overseer and Corrector of a Printing-Office".[10] This meant that Richardson was running his own shop, but the location of that shop is unknown.[10] It is possible that the shop was located in Staining Lane or may have been jointly run with John Leake in Jewin Street.[13] In 1719, Richardson was able to take his freedom from being an apprentice and was soon able to afford to set up his own printing shop, which he did after he moved near the Salisbury Court district close to Fleet Street.[13] Although he claimed to business associates that he was working out of the well-known Salisbury Court, his printing shop was more accurately located on the corner of Blue Ball Court and Dorset Street in a house that later became Bell's Building.[13] On 23 November 1721 Richardson married Martha Wilde, the daughter of his former employer, and it was "prompted mainly by prudential considerations" although Richardson would claim later that there was a strong love-affair between him and Martha.[14] He soon brought her to live with him in the printing shop that served also as his home.[15] Richardson's career expanded on 6 August 1722 when Richardson took on his first apprentices: Thomas Gover, George Mitchell, and Joseph Chrichley.[16] He would later take on William Price (2 May 1727), Samuel Jolley (5 September 1727), Bethell Wellington (2 September 1729), and Halhed Garland (5 May 1730).[17] One of Richardson's first major contracts to print came in June of 1723 when he began to print the bi-weekly The True Briton for Philip Wharton, 1st Duke of Wharton. This was a Jacobite political paper which attacked the government and was soon censored for printing "common libels". However, Richardson's name was not on the publication, and he was able to escape any of the negative fallout, although it is possible that Richardson participated in the papers as far as actually authoring one himself.[18] The only lasting effect from the paper would be the adoption of Wharton's libertine characteristics being incorporated into Richardson's Clarissa in the character of Robert Lovelace, although Wharton would be only one of many models of libertine behaviour that Richardson would find in his life.[19] In 1724, Richardson befriended Thomas Gent, Henry Woodfall, and Arthur Onslow, the latter of those would become the Speaker of the House of Commons.[20] Over their ten years of marriage, the Richardsons had five sons and one daughter, and three of the boys were named Samuel after their father, but all of the boys died after just a few years.Soon after, William, their fourth child died, Martha died on 25 January 1731. Their youngest son, Samuel, was to live past his mother for a year longer, but succumbed to illness in 1732. After his final son died, Richardson attempted to move on with his life; he married Elizabeth Leake and the two moved into another house on Blue Ball Court. However, Elizabeth and his daughter were not the only ones living with him since Richardson allowed five of his apprentices to lodge in his home.[21] Elizabeth had six children (five daughters and one son) with Richardson; four of their daughters, Mary, Martha, Anne, and Sarah, reached adulthood and survived their father.[22] Their son, also a Samuel, was born in 1739, but soon died in 1740.[22]


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