This periodical was written largely by Richard Steele (1672–1729), MP, dramatist and author of The Christian Hero (1701) and Joseph Addison (1672–1719), MP, poet, and author of the tragedy Cato (1713). The Spectator appeared daily from March 1711 to December 1712 and was one of the most influential periodicals of the eighteenth century — it was said that if one owned only two books one would be the Bible, the other the Spectator papers. It represented a fictional ‘club’ of gentlemen from different walks of life, and addressed the moral and cultural issues of the day, with ‘Mr. Spectator’ typically depicting himself as an impartial observer of urban life. Its fictional club members — from the country JP Sir Roger, through a lawyer, a merchant, a captain, a ‘gallant’, to a clergyman — suggests a socially inclusive concept of rank and status. However, the Spectator resolutely articulated what we might now call a middle-class ideology, in which ostensibly differing ranks shared a similar set of moral, commercial and aesthetic concerns, and which was an attempt to transform the values of ‘nobility’ for use by an urban professional class.
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- Richard Steele, The Spectator, no. 11 (13 March 1711)
Stephen H. Gregg
- Macmillan Education UK
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