Pamela and the Anglican Crisis of the 1730s

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The publication of Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded in 1739 is read as a response to the contemporary crisis of authority in the Anglican Church. Anglican clergy were commonly perceived as corrupt, weak or remote. The Church's moral authority was threatened by its subordination to Whig interests, and its power and influence in the state were endangered by anticlerical legislation put before Parliament in the 1730s. In 1739 the Methodist George Whitefield attacked the Anglican reconciliation of virtue with worldly interest. Richardson deployed fiction to defend the Anglican ethos in Pamela by emphatically rewarding his heroine's ‘virtue’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-51
Number of pages15
JournalJournal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • novel
  • crisis
  • religion
  • Anglicanism
  • moral authority
  • virtue

Cite this