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1 a periodical conducted by Steele and Addison, from 1 March 1711 to 6 Dec. 1712. It was revived by Addison in 1714, when 80 numbers (556–635 were issued. The Spectator which succeeded the Tatler appeared daily. Addison and Steele were the principal contributors; other contributors included Pope, Tickell, Eustace Budgell, A. Philips, Eusden, and Lady M. W. Montagu.

It purported to be conducted (see the first two numbers) by a small club, including Sir Roger de Coverley, who represents the country gentry, Sir Andrew Freeport, Captain Sentry, and Will Honeycomb, representing respectively commerce, the army, and the town. Mr Spectator himself, who writes the papers, is a man of travel and learning, who frequents London as an observer. The papers are mainly concerned with manners, morals, and literature. Their object is ‘to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality’; both its style and its morals were considered exemplary by Dr Johnson, H. Blair, and other arbiters.

2 a weekly periodical started in 1828 by Robert Stephen Rintoul as an organ of ‘educated radicalism’. It supported Lord John Russell's Reform Bill of 1831. R. H. Hutton was joint editor, 1861–97. John St Loe Strachey was editor and proprietor from 1898 to 1925, and his cousin Lytton Strachey was a frequent contributor. Other notable contributors in later years include P. Fleming, G. Greene, E. Waugh, L. A. G. Strong, P. Quennell, K. Amis.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Richard Steele (1672—1729) writer and politician

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