Spectator, English daily periodical published jointly by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele with occasional contributions from other writers. It succeeded the Tatler, a periodical begun by Steele on Apr. 12, 1709, under the pseudonym Isaac Bickerstaff. The Tatler appeared twice weekly until it ended Jan. 2, 1711. The Spectator began Mar. 1, 1711, appearing as a daily, and lasted until Dec. 6, 1712. Valuable as social history, the papers (dated from various London coffeehouses) provide an excellent commentary on the manners, morals, and literature of the day. The Spectator was supposedly written by members of a small club, representing figures of the British middle class: Sir Roger de Coverley (country gentry), Captain Sentry (military), Sir Andrew Freeport (commerce), Will Honeycomb (town), and Mr. Spectator himself. Addison joined Steele in writing the Tatler and continued his collaboration with him, writing about the same number of articles, in the Spectator. Both periodicals had a tremendous influence on public opinion and gave great impetus to the growth of journalism and periodical writing. The Spectator, which was succeeded by the Guardian, was revived for a time by Addison in 1714.
See edition of the Spectator by G. Smith (1945); studies by G. S. Streatfeild (1923) and R. P. Bond (1971).