Magazine article History Today

The First Issue of the Spectator: March 1st 1711

Magazine article History Today

The First Issue of the Spectator: March 1st 1711

Article excerpt

Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, friends from their schooldays at Charterhouse, created a new literary genre in Queen Anne's time. In 1709 Steele launched the Tatler, with news, gossip, reviews and essays three days a week, to which Addison contributed. It ran until the beginning of 1711 and Addison and Steele started the Spectator on the first Thursday the following March. Running to about 2,500 words an issue, it came out daily except Sunday. Issue No I, after a Latin quotation from Horace, consisted entirely of an introduction by Addison as 'Mr Spectator'. 'I have observed" he began, 'that a Reader seldom peruses a Book with Pleasure 'til he knows whether the Writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or cholerick Disposition, Married or a Batchelor, with other Particulars of the like nature ...' He accordingly supplied a biography of his fictitious self and observed that he lived in the world 'rather as a spectator of mankind than as one of the species'.

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In No2 Steele introduced Mr Spectator's friends, who would feature in subsequent issues. …

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