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About Eighteenth-Century Fiction


Eighteenth-Century Fiction brings together 96 complete works of English prose from the period 1700–1780 by writers from the British Isles. It is the largest collection of literature from the period available in electronic form.

The eighteenth century saw an enormous increase in the production and publication of prose narratives. It was a period of great creative experiment as the structure and conventions of what would be termed the novel were shaped and developed. Eighteenth-Century Fiction offers students and researchers access to this dynamic period of English literary history. It not only represents all the major writers associated with the 'rise of the novel' - Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Samuel Richardson, Tobias Smollett, and Laurence Sterne - but also many less well-known, but equally vital and significant figures, such as Penelope Aubin, Richard Graves, Charles Johnstone, Mary de la Rivière Manley and Sarah Scott.

Key areas covered include:

  • Epistolary novels, such as Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740) and Clarissa (1748), Tobias Smollett's Humphry Clinker (1771) and Fanny Burney's Evelina (1778)
  • Novels of sentiment, ranging from Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey (1768) to Henry Brooke's The Fool of Quality (1765–70) and Henry Mackenzie's The Man of Feeling (1771), as well as works by Frances Brooke, Charlotte Lennox and Frances Sheridan
  • Documentary fictions, including Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719) and A Journal of the Plague Year (1722)
  • Allegorical narratives and satires, for example Mary de la Rivière Manley's The New Atalantis (1709), Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726 and 1735 editions), Francis Coventry's The History of Pompey the Little (1751), Samuel Johnson's Rasselas (1759), Richard Graves, The Spiritual Quixote (1773)
  • Gothic novels, particularly Clara Reeve's The Old English Baron (1780) and Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764)

Editorial Policy

The authors and works were selected under the guidance of the Editorial Board to meet the needs of academic teaching and research, and provide a representative and cross-sectional view of the prose fiction of the period.

Editorial Board

Dr Judith Hawley, Royal Holloway, University of London
Dr Tom Keymer, St Anne's College, University of Oxford
Dr John Mullan, University College London

'Not a substitute for reading and thinking, but a tool to support imaginative analysis and sophisticated research, this database will be an invaluable resource for work in libraries and classrooms' - Dr Judith Hawley Royal Holloway, University of London

'[Eighteenth-Century Fiction] will allow the researcher to trace patterns of diction and allusion within individual texts, or the works of a particular author. With electronic access to the language of novels, we will be able to explore the influence of novels on our language' - Dr John Mullan, University College London


A single edition of each work, usually the first, has been included. A few works, such as Clarissa, have been reproduced twice in different editions, to take account of extensive authorial revisions. The second edition of Tristram Shandy is included in both scanned page-image form and fully-searchable text in order to reflect its wide range of visual innovations.


The entire text of each individual work has been included, with all prefatory matter and annotation by the original author. All accompanying material, such as illustrations, contents pages, appendices, lists of subscribers, dedications, errata lists, etc. also appears. Only material having no bearing on the work in question or its author (such as a publisher's advertisements for other texts) has been excluded.