Samuel Richardson was the son of a cabinetmaker. He was born in Derbyshire in 1689, though later his family returned to London. He was considered a very grave child, who didn't play too much, but was enjoyed as a story teller. He also acquired a reputation as a writer of letters. He was a favorite to young women at an early age for reading, and many employed him to write answers to their love letters.
In 1706 he was apprentice to a London writer; in his free time, he collected indexes and dedications. He became a freeman of the Stationers' Company in 1715, and in 1718 he manmaged to set up his own business; a small printing house and then a larger one in 1724 at Salisbury Court.
Richardson was considered a prosperous, respectable, and thrifty businessman. He was married twice, in 1721 to Martha Wilde, his master's daughter, and in 1732 to Elizabeth Leake, the sister of a bookseller. Seven of his children died in infancy. This and other tragedies in his life would aid to the nervous ailments of his later life.
He bought a house at North End, Hammersmith in 1739 and this became a meeting place for many friends and fellow writers. He also wrote a hefty amount of letters and novels there. In 1739 he wrote a volume of model letters for the use of the country reader, which appeared as "Familiar Letters" in 1741. At around the same time he also managed to publish the beloved novel "Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded." Many feel that "Pamela" made Richardson the originator of the English novel. It was in 1748 that the 7 volumes of "Clarissa; or the History of a Young Lady" would appear, and grew to be considered his best work, as well as one of the longest novels in English literature. His last notable work was "The History of Sir Charles Grandison" in 1754, where he wrote of his ideal of a true Christian gentleman. In 1754 he became master of the Stationers' Company. He then moved from North End to Parsons Green, where he died on July 4, 1761.