A brief history of the Chapter

English: Portrait sketch of Henry Fielding
Henry Fielding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fielding’s older brother, the novelist Henry Fielding, had already, in “Joseph Andrews” (1742), explained “those little Spaces between our Chapters” as “an Inn or Resting-Place, where he may stop and take a Glass, or any other Refreshment, as it pleases him.” Chapter titles, Fielding proceeded to explain, were like the inscriptions over the doors of those inns, advertising the accommodations within.

Chapters are features of books that are taken for granted, however, their function has changed through the centuries. They have been praised as useful structuring aids and condemned as disruptions of a text’s unity.

See http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/chapter-history