According to Arthur Murphy, Henry Fielding claimed “that he left off writing for the stage when he ought to have begun”. 1 Regardless of the veracity of this attribution (Murphy’s putative closeness and even his actual acquaintance with the writer was challenged from the start), this assessment of Fielding’s drama might equally be applied to his novelistic career. Tom Jones, and even more so Amelia, gestures towards the consolidation of a model of novel writing that strove to endow the genre with the cultural legitimacy that Fielding never ceased to crave. The tragic atmosphere of his last novel can be explained, in part at least, by his aspiration to influence prose fiction so as to render it a medium at once popular and prestigious, something that in his time could only be said of regular dramatic literature. The despondency of Amelia and its fluctuation between the tragic and the comic modes not only respond to Fielding’s declining health, his growing social conservatism, and his general disenchantment with life but also are related to a tacit abandonment, or rather an amendment, of the model that he proposed in Joseph Andrews and refined in Tom Jones.