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The Expedition of Humphry Clinker  
Cover of the 1998 OUP edition
Author Tobias Smollett
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Novel, Picaresque, Epistolary
Publisher W. Johnson and B. Collins
Publication date 17 June 1771
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 375
ISBN 0192835947
OCLC Number 41152911

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker was the last of the picaresque novels of Tobias Smollett, and is considered by many to be his best and funniest work.[1] Published in London on 17 June 1771, it is an epistolary novel, presented in the form of letters written by six different characters: Matthew Bramble, a Welsh Squire; his sister Tabitha; their niece and nephew, Jery and Lydia Melford; Tabitha's maid Winifred Jenkins; and Lydia's suitor, Wilson.

Much of the comedy arises from differences in the descriptions of the same events by different participants. Attributions of motives and descriptions of behavior show wild variation and reveal much about the character of the teller. The setting, amidst the high-society spa towns and seaside resorts of the 18th century provides his characters with many opportunities for satirical observations on English life and manners.

The author's own travels in Scotland, France and Italy helped provide inspiration for the plot.

Plot summary

The title character, Humphry Clinker, is an ostler, a stableman at an inn, who does not make his first appearance until about a quarter of the way through the story. He is taken on by Matthew Bramble and his family while they are travelling through England. Various adventures befall them, especially after their meeting with Lieutenant Lismahago, a Scotsman, who joins their party. After various romantic interludes, Humphry suffers false imprisonment but is rescued and returned to his sweetheart, the maid Winifred Jenkins. It is then discovered that Humphry is Mr. Bramble's illegitimate son from a relationship with a barmaid during his wilder university days.


  1. ^ K. Simpson, 'Smollett, Tobias George (1721–1771)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004). Available online (paid subscription required)

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia.

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
by Tobias Smollett
The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker is a picaresque novel that was written towards the very end of the temperamental Smollett’s life and published shortly before his death in 1771. It is now regarded as his most accomplished novel, and is not coincidentally also his most mellow in outlook. His other novels and travel writing display a general hostility towards man and his actions, particularly when foreigners are involved.
  • To Mr Henry Davis, Bookseller, in London.
  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • Chapter 6
  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 8
  • Chapter 9
  • Chapter 10
  • Chapter 11
  • Chapter 12
  • Chapter 13
  • Chapter 14
  • Chapter 15
  • Chapter 16
  • Chapter 17
  • Chapter 18
  • Chapter 19
  • Chapter 20
  • Chapter 21
  • Chapter 22
  • Chapter 23
  • Chapter 24
  • Chapter 25
  • Chapter 26
  • Chapter 27
  • Chapter 28
  • Chapter 29


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