Novelist and playwright Henry Fielding was born on April 22, 1707 in Glastonbury, Somerset, England. He was the son of a army lieutenant and a judge's daughter, and was educated at Eton and the University of Leiden before returning to England where he wrote a series of farces, operas and light comedies. Fielding formed his own company and was running the Little Theatre, Haymarket, when one of his satirical plays upset the government, which resulted in the Theatrical Licensing Act in 1737 effectively ended Fielding's career as a playwright. In 1739 Fielding turned to journalism and became editor of The Champion. He also began writing novels such as The Adventures of Joseph Andrews (1742), Abraham Adams (1842) and Jonathan Wild (1743). Fielding was made a justice of the peace for Westminster and Middlesex in 1748. He campaigned against legal corruption and helped his half-brother, Sir John Fielding, establish the Bow Street Runners. In 1749 Fielding's novel, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling was published to public acclaim. Literary historians generally agree that it is one of the greatest comic novels in British literature. Fielding followed this success with another well received novel, Amelia (1751). Fielding continued as a journalist and his satirical journal, Covent Garden, and continued to upset those in power. Throughout his life, Fielding suffered from poor health and by 1752 he could not move without the help of crutches. In an attempt to overcome his health problems, he traveled to Portugal and died there on October 8, 1754.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Great Britain’s Literary Legends. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links: