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Henry Fielding

Tony Rossiter shows how a successful playwright became a bestselling novelist

The techniques and tricks of …

The ‘father of the English novel’ was Sir Walter Scott’s description of Henry Fielding. At more than 800 pages (Everyman Library edition), Tom Jones, his most famous novel, is by some distance the longest book I’ve tackled in this column.

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (to give the book its full title) was first published in six volumes in 1749. It was a huge popular success – an immediate bestseller. The novel is divided into eighteen books, each opening with an introductory chapter in which Fielding addresses some moral or social issue, typically accompanied by his own philosophical reflections, which he often then relates to the novel’s past or future narrative (both these and the main body of the novel contain occasional classical references, some in Latin; most of these were lost on me). It’s clear from this how very carefully he had planned the novel’s construction.

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Slow down! Why word counts and targets aren't always good for your writing Synopsis secrets: The single page that will sell your book Top tips for every genre:- • Crime: Perfect pacemaking • Five ways to grow creatively as a children's author • Explore the new trend for genre-blending fantasy Masterclass: Study the style and stories of Henry Fielding, James Thurber, Rudyard Kipling and Roald Dahl Star interview: Anne O'Brien, the challenger to Philippa Gregory's crown WIN! A PC worth £600

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