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Shamela is a parody of Samuel Richardson's Pamela , in which a virtuous servant girl long resists her master's advances and is eventually 'rewarded' with marriage. Joseph Andrews , Fielding's first novel, can also be seen as a response to Richardson, as the lascivious Lady Booby sets out to seduce her comically chaste servant Joseph.
Henry Fielding (1707 - 54) started his career as a playwright until his outspoken satirical plays so annoyed Walpole's Government that a new Licensing Act was introduced to drive him from the stage. He turned to writing various 'comic epics in prose', including SHAMELA (1741), JOSEPH ANDREWS (1742) and TOM JONES (1749). A master innovator, he is credited with creating the first modern novels in English. Judith Hawley is a lecturer in English at Royal Holloway, University of London.