Henry fielding (1707-54) began his writing career as a playwright and before the age of thirty produced a number of comedies, farces and burlesques. His wit was already apparent, and his admirers included Swift who particularly enjoyed his Tom Thumb. His Pasquin, A Dramatick Satire on the Times was in part responsible for the ensuring restrictive censorship of plays with the Licensing Act of 1737. Fielding practised at law, wrote essays and poems, ran a few journals - but remains most famous for his novels. He began Joseph Andrews as a parody of the sentimentalism of Richardson's Pamela, and quickly developed his humourous and satirical style in Tom Jones, Jonathan Wild and Amelia.
Admired by writers and readers alike, Fielding is one of the true founders of the English novel whose influence can be traced into the nineteenth century and the works of Dickens and Thackeray. The novels are illustrated by William Small and there is a typically erudite biographical introduction by Leslie Stephen.