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First Edition of The Spectator

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First Edition of The Spectator

London The 1st of March 1711 AD

The original (and somewhat short-lived) version of The Spectator was very different from its fellow daily newspapers, and certainly far removed from the magazine that took its name in 1828 and continues to this day. Some call it a magazine, though it was generally produced daily.
It was founded by poet, playwright and politician (at that time MP for Malmesbury) Joseph Addison , working with his old Carthusian contemporary Richard Steele, and rather than reporting news it ventured opinions generally through the voice of Mr Spectator whose shyness identified closely with that of Addison on events and issues of note. These are seen through other imagined characters. It set out to write with wit and style, and had an outlook more in accord with the growing middle class than with more established power groups.
The first issue of the paper was concerned with introducing the concept of Mr Spectator as an observer of society. It captured a loyal following in the capital, and though only selling some 3000 or so copies could claim a readership far greater than that number, given it was read by entire households and more significantly by scores of visitors to the coffee houses which offered their copies to customers.

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