Samuel Richardson: Clarissa (2166 words)

Jennie Batchelor (University of Kent at Canterbury)
Download PDF Save to Bookshelf Tweet Report an Error


Clarissa; or the History of a Young Lady (1747-1748), the longest novel to have been written in the English language, is Richardson’s darkest and most brilliant work. The plot is largely unexceptional. Centred around the attempted seduction of a beautiful young woman, Clarissa shares many narrative elements in common with a plethora of early eighteenth-century romances penned by writers such as Eliza Haywood, Penelope Aubin and Mary Delarivière Manley, and draws freely upon the conventions of Restoration tragedy. Yet Clarissa is a unique and uniquely resonant work; a complex, haunting and psychologically compelling exploration of desire, duty and the social dynamics of eighteenth-century culture.


Citation: Batchelor, Jennie. "Clarissa". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 June 2002 [, accessed 27 October 2021.]

5964 Clarissa 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here