Joseph Addison The Spectator, No. 10, 12 March 1711 (1672-1719)


Addison (1672-1719), a British politician, playwright, poet, and journalist, collaborated with the playwright Richard Steele (1672-1729) to publish a magazine called The Spectator. Their breezy, elegant, often gently moralistic essays on culture, literature, manners, and fashions of the times have been acclaimed as sterling examples of English literary style, and were influential in helping to define the boundaries and interests of polite middle-class society. More broadly, they helped to create the audience (urbane, sophisticated, politically moderate) to which they purported to appeal. They remain models for a kind of witty, opinionated essay, more about manners and style than hard news, that is still characteristic of European periodicals–and that continues to inspire certain journalists in Europe and the United States. In this essay, Addison explains who he assumes his readers to be, how he intends to address them, and why he believes they will benefit from his example.

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