Open main menu
The 18th century novel: commercial and cultural buzz
by John Mullan
About this EXP
John Mullan, Professor of English at University College London, traces the rise of the novel in 18th century England.
John Mullan →
Key point 1
After the Licensing Act lapsed in 1695, anyone with the capital and entrepreneurial spirit to set up a printing press could do so. Literature then became something that got bought and sold.
Key point 2
Having noticed the fashion for travellers’ tales, Daniel Defoe published Robinson Crusoe in 1719, which is regarded today as the first proper novel in English.
Key point 3
Published in 1740, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela marks the beginning of the rise of the novel. With its moral earnestness, it makes fiction respectable.
Other EXPs by John Mullan
Charles Dickens, self-made Victorian sensation
Jane Austen, an unlikely genius