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According to the Wikipedia article about Dramatis Personae, Dramatis Personae began in plays and later moved into the other forms of literature. This led me to ask: When did Dramatis Personae first appear in a work of literature that was not a play?

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    I might have started something here ;) – Trish Oct 5 '18 at 16:54
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The first edition of Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady (1748) by Samuel Richardson begins with:

A brief Account of the principal Characters throughout the Whole.

Miss Clarissa Harlowe, a young Lady of great Delicacy; Mistress of all the Accomplements, natural and acquired, that adorn the Sex; having the strictest Notions of filial Duty.

Robert Lovelace, Esq; a Man of Birth and Fortune: Haughty, vindictive, humourously vain; equally intrepid and indefatigable in the Pursuit of his Pleasures—Making his Addresses to Miss Clarissa Harlowe.

James Harlowe, Esq; the Father of Miss Clarissa, Miss Arabella, and Mr. James Harlowe: Despotic, absolute; and, when offended, not easily forgiving. […]

Samuel Richardson (1748). Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady, volume 1, p. ix. London: S. Richardson

This has longer character descriptions than a typical dramatis personae, but it is close, and Richardson’s next novel The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1754) is even closer:

Names of the Principal Persons.

        MEN.
George Selby, Esq;
John Greville, Esq;
Richard Fenwick, Esq;
[…]

        WOMEN.
Miss Harriet Byron.
Mrs. Shirley, her Grandmother by the Mother’s Side.
Mrs. Selby, Sister to Miss Byron’s Father, and Wife of Mr. Selby.
[…]

Samuel Richardson (1754). The History of Sir Charles Grandison, volume 1, p. viii. London: S. Richardson.

Later editions of Clarissa were revised to contain a list similar to that in Charles Grandison, for example the sixth edition (1768) has:

Names of the Principal Persons

Miss Clarissa Harlowe, A young Lady of great Beauty and Merit.
Robert Lovelace, Esq; Her Admirer.
James Harlowe, Esq; Father of Clarissa.
Mrs. Harlowe, His Lady.
[…]

Samuel Richardson (1768). Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady (sixth edition), volume 1, p. xii. London: J. and F. Rivington.

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