Clarissa – An Abridged Edition
or, The History of a Young Lady
  • Publication Date: September 27, 2010
  • ISBN: 9781551114750 / 1551114755
  • 808 pages; 6" x 9"

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Clarissa – An Abridged Edition

or, The History of a Young Lady

  • Publication Date: September 27, 2010
  • ISBN: 9781551114750 / 1551114755
  • 808 pages; 6" x 9"

This classic novel tells the story, in letters, of the beautiful and virtuous Clarissa Harlowe’s pursuit by the brilliant, unscrupulous rake Robert Lovelace. The epistolary structure allows Richardson to create layered and fully realized characters, as well as an intriguing uncertainty about the reliability of the various “narrators.” Clarissa emerges as a heroine at once rational and passionate, self-sacrificing and defiant, and her story has gripped readers since the novel’s first publication in 1747–48.

This new abridgment is designed to retain the novel’s rich characterizations and relationships, and reproduces individual letters in their entirety whenever possible. This Broadview Edition provides a uniquely accessible entry point for readers, while retaining much of the powerful reading experience of the complete novel.


Clarissa is one of the towering masterpieces of the eighteenth century, and it is impossible to understand the literature of the period and the rise of the novel without it. This new edition provides a rigorously conceived, expertly executed solution to the problem of abridgment, and restores to the undergraduate classroom a work previously excluded by sheer length.” — Thomas Keymer, University of Toronto

“Arguably the best novel published in Great Britain in the eighteenth century and an undisputed landmark of European literature, Clarissa, at over a million words, is too long for the undergraduate classroom. Here, finally, is an abridgment that, while reducing its length, remains faithful to the spirit of the original. Based on the text of the third edition and judiciously edited by Toni Bowers and John Richetti, the Broadview Clarissa superbly fills a long-standing pedagogical need. With its excellent introduction, detailed notes, and generous background and contextual materials, this edition makes Richardson’s masterpiece accessible to twenty-first century students.” — Albert J. Rivero, Marquette University

“Eager to introduce rather than replace a masterpiece, Richetti and Bowers offer a practical classroom compromise to the familiar problem of Richardson’s prolixity. Surely an abridgment of this magnitude—with its smart choice of the 1751 third edition as copy text, its accessible introduction and notes, and an appendix that resurrects important historical contexts—will tempt new generations of readers to consider, eventually, all of Clarissa.” — Janine Barchas, University of Texas at Austin

Samuel Richardson: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text


Appendix A: Prefatory Material for the Second Edition, 1749

Appendix B: Richardson’s Correspondence

  1. Correspondence with “Mrs. Belfour”/Lady Bradshaigh (1748–53)
    1. Letter 1: Lady Bradshaigh to Richardson
    2. Letter 2: Richardson to Lady Bradshaigh
    3. Letter 3: Lady Bradshaigh to Richardson
    4. Letter 4: Richardson to Lady Bradshaigh
    5. Letter 5: Richardson to Lady Bradshaigh
  2. Correspondence with Johannes Stinstra (1753–54)
    1. Letter 1: Richardson to Johannes Stinstra
    2. Letter 2: Johannes Stinstra to Richardson
    3. Letter 3: Richardson to Johannes Stinstra

Appendix C: Eighteenth-Century Responses to Clarissa

  1. Henry Fielding, Letter to Richardson (1748)
  2. Sarah Fielding, Letter to Richardson (1749)
  3. Review of Clarissa by Albrecht Von Haller (1749)
  4. Review of Clarissa by Samuel Johnson (1750)
  5. Elizabeth Echlin, An Alternative Ending to Richardson’s Clarissa (1754–55)
  6. Denis Diderot, “In Praise of Richardson” (1761)
  7. From James Beattie, “On Fable and Romance” (1783)
  8. Anna Lætitia Aikin Barbauld, “The Life of Samuel Richardson, with Remarks on His Writings” (1804)

Select Bibliography

Toni Bowers is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

John Richetti is A.M. Rosenthal Professor (Emeritus) of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Both have published widely on eighteenth-century fiction.