Henry Fielding: Life and Background
When he died in 1754, aged only 43, Henry Fielding was a highly respected magistrate, who had contributed greatly to the cleaning up of London’s crime rings by helping to set up an effective police force. He was also a most successful novelist — still one of the select few whose works have never gone out of print. His last book Amelia (1751) earned him £880 (say £20,000 in today’s currency but remember that a country gentleman could live well on £500 a year at the time). Yet his career in his early years, up to his first marriage in 1734, was anything but regular, respectable or even sober. So we must glance at his disturbed childhood and his wild youth, as well as his happy if tragically brief marriage, at the vein of profligacy as well as the powerful moral persuasions that grew on him in later life, if we are to understand the origins of that kaleidoscopic, by turns farcical, idyllic, brutal, sombre yet continually pulsating world which he created in Joseph Andrews .
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