The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (190721).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
VI. Fiction I.
§ 1. The Novel in the Colonies.
|THE CLEAR victory which the first great British novelists won over popular taste did not, for some years, make them masters of the colonial public. Pamela, indeed, was printed as early as 1744 in Philadelphia, by Benjamin Franklin, and in the same year in New York and in Boston. But the only other novels printed in America before the Declaration of Independence seem to have been Robinson Crusoe (1768), Rasselas (1768), The Vicar of Wakefield (1772), Juliet Grenville (1774), and The Works of Laurence Sterne M.A. (1774). Publishers, however, were less active than importers, for diaries and library catalogues show that British editions were on many shelves. The Southern and Middle colonies may have read more novels than did New England, yet Jonathan Edwards himself, whose savage quarrel with the Northampton congregation had arisen partly over the licentious books [possibly Pamela, among others] which some of the younger members employed to promote lascivious and obscene discourse, was later enchanted by Sir Charles Grandison.