'The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling'
By Henry Fielding (Author), Alice Wakely (Editor), Thomas Keymer (Introduction)
A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr. Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of the neighboring squire—though he sometimes succumbs to the charms of the local girls. When Tom is banished to make his own fortune and Sophia follows him to London to escape an arranged marriage, the adventure begins. A vivid Hogarthian panorama of eighteenth-century life, spiced with danger and intrigue, bawdy exuberance and good-natured authorial interjections, Tom Jones is one of the greatest and most ambitious comic novels in English literature.
• Includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading, notes, glossary, and an appendix of Fielding's revisions
• Introduction discusses narrative tecniques and themes, the context of eighteenth-century fiction and satire, and the historical and political background of the Jacobite revolution.
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Henry Fielding was born in Somerset in 1707. The son of an army lieutenant and a judge's daughter, he was educated at Eton School and the University of Leiden before returning to England where he wrote a series of farces, operas and light comedies.
Fielding formed his own company and was running the Little Theatre, Haymarket, when one of his satirical plays began to upset the government. The passing of the Theatrical Licensing Act in 1737 effectively ended Fielding's career as a playwright.
In 1739 Fielding turned to journalism and became editor of The Champion. He also began writing novels, including: The Adventures of Joseph Andrews (1742), Abraham Adams (1742) and Jonathan Wild (1743).
Fielding was made a justice of the peace for Westminster and Middlesex in 1748. He campaigned against legal corruption and helped his half-brother, Sir John Fielding, establish the Bow Street Runners.
In 1749 Fielding's novel, The History of Tom Jones was published to public acclaim. Critics agree that it is one of the greatest comic novels in the English language. Fielding followed this success with another well received novel, Amelia (1751).
Fielding continued as a journalist and his satirical journal, Covent Garden, continued to upset those in power. Throughout his life, Fielding suffered from poor health and by 1752 he could not move without the help of crutches. In an attempt to overcome his health problems, Henry Fielding went to live in Portugal but this was not successful and he died in Lisbon in 1754.