Introduction and Notes by Doreen Roberts, Rutherford College, University of Kent at Canterbury. 'Tom Jones' is widely regarded as one of the first and most influential English novels. It is certainly the funniest. Tom Jones, the hero of the book, is introduced to the reader as the ward of a liberal Somerset squire. Tom is a generous but slightly wild and feckless country boy with a weakness for young women. Misfortune, followed by many spirited adventures as he travels to London to seek his fortune, teach him a sort of wisdom to go with his essential good-heartedness. This 'comic, epic poem in prose' will make the modern reader laugh as much as it did his forbears. Its biting satire finds an echo in today's society, for as Doris Lessing recently remarked "This country becomes every day more like the eighteenth century, full of thieves and adventurers, rogues and a robust, unhypocritical savagery side-by-side with people lecturing others on morality". AUTHOR: Henry Fielding (1707-1754) was an English novelist; building on the foundations put in place by Daniel Defoe and others, he was a major contributor to the form of the modern novel. He wrote four novels, of which the most enduring is 'The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling', widely regarded as among the finest books ever written.