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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BRITAIN
 
  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

 
More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
Henry Fielding

(1707–54)
Playwright, journalist, lawyer and above all novelist. His first career was in the theatre (and his greatest success the mock-heroic farce Tom Thumb 1730), but his satirical attacks on Walpole provoked a more rigorous censorship of the stage from 1737, bringing his theatrical career to an end. His polemics were then confined to journalism, but meanwhile he resumed his legal studies. In 1748 he was appointed magistrate in London's Bow Street court, a post which he took with unprecedented seriousness, making detailed studies of London's underworld (others in the post had been more concerned with the perks). In about 1750 he was joined on the bench by his blind half-brother, John Fielding (d. 1780). Together they established the *Bow Street runners.
 






But Fielding's fame rests primarily on his fiction. The success of Pamela, Samuel *Richardson's novel of virtue, provoked Fielding to write Shamela – a lampoon, anonymous but almost certainly his, which retells Richardson's story with less virtuous implications. It also inspired his own first novel, Joseph Andrews (1742). Joseph is the brother of Richardson's Pamela, who also appears in the book. In its rough but colourful world, of a kind well known to Fielding, virtue is found not among the respectable, as in Pamela, but in a handful of everyday characters who happen to be honest, generous and warm – most notably the absent-minded Parson Adams.
 






The broad canvas of Joseph Andrews, as Joseph and Adams travel the country together, established a new pattern for the English novel which was triumphantly extended in Fielding's best-known work, *Tom Jones (1749).
 








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