Samuel Richardson

Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded (1740)


Samuel Richardson (1689-1761)

1689   Born in Derbyshire, England. Apprenticed in a printerís shop as a boy. Eventually had his own business as printer

1721   Marries Martha Wilde, daughter of former employer.

1731   Martha dies following the death of 4 of their children. 5th child dies 2 years later.

1733   Marries Elizabeth Leake with whom he has five daughters and a son.


Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded

Epistolary Novel: written in the form of letters.

Novel contains two types of letters:

1.      letters she addresses to her parents when Mrs. B dies and she is wondering whether to stay or leave. In these letters she explains to her parents about the advances Mr. B is making towards her and her moral dilemma under this situation.

2.      letters she addresses to her parents, but fears they might not get them. This part resembles a diary in which she keeps notes of her attempts at keeping her virtue. Mr. B has by now abducted her and imprisoned her in his countryhouse so she is not sure if her parents are getting her letters.

In resisting his temptations and advances, Mr. B finally acknowledges Pamelaís virtue and decides to marry her. Thus, her virtue is finally rewarded.

Once she marries Mr. B, Pamela begins to learn to adjust to upper-class society.


Richardsonís early intention was to write a book of conduct, but eventually the series of letters changed it into a novel.

Novel was very well-received and read everywhere.

Richardson would change parts of the novel according to his readerís interaction with it. Thus, Pamela, early portrayed as a lower-class maid, is later changed into a middle-class educated one in order to make her marriage to Mr. B less controversial.