Joseph Addison

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Related to Joseph Addison: Richard Steele
Joseph Addison
BirthplaceMilston, Wiltshire
Writer and politician

Addison, Joseph

Addison, Joseph, 1672–1719, English essayist, poet, and statesman. He was educated at Charterhouse, where he was a classmate of Richard Steele, and at Oxford, where he became a distinguished classical scholar. His travels on the Continent from 1699 to 1703 were recorded in Remarks on Italy (1705). Addison first achieved prominence with The Campaign (1704), an epic celebrating the victory of Marlborough at Blenheim. The poem was commissioned by Lord Halifax, and its great success resulted in Addison's appointment in 1705 as undersecretary of state and in 1709 as secretary to the lord lieutenant of Ireland. He also held a seat in Parliament from 1708 until his death. Addison's most enduring fame was achieved as an essayist. In 1710 he began his contributions to the Tatler, which Richard Steele had founded in 1709. He continued to write for successive publications, including the Spectator (1711–12), the Guardian (1713), and the new Spectator (1714). His contributions to these periodicals raised the English essay to a degree of technical perfection never before achieved and perhaps never since surpassed. In a prose style marked by simplicity, order, and precision, he sought to engage men's thoughts toward reason, moderation, and a harmonious life. His works also include an opera libretto, Rosamund (1707); a prose comedy, The Drummer (1716); and a neoclassical tragedy, Cato (1713), which had an immense success in its own time, but has since been regarded as artificial and sententious. In his last years Addison received his greatest prominence. In 1717 he was made secretary of state, an office he resigned the following year. But the period (1714–19) was also marked by failing health, a supposedly unhappy marriage, and the severing of his relations with his good friend Richard Steele.


See biography by P. H. B. O. Smithers (1954, repr. 1968).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Lord Shaftesbury and Christian Wolff represent two versions of a theory based on (aesthetic) knowledge or truth, Joseph Addison, Jean-Pierre Crousaz and Jean-Baptiste Du Bos exemplify the approach emphasizing the free play of our mental faculties and the primacy of our emotional responses.
The Spectator, produced by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele between 1711 and 1712, was one of the first and most influential--its name lives on today in the conservative-leaning Spectator published in London continuously since 1828.
OF THE VERSES PUBLISHED TO CELEBRATE THE Duke of Marlborough's victory at Blenheim on 10 August 1704, Joseph Addison's The Campaign (December 1704) and John Philips's Bleinheim (January 1705) have attracted by far the greatest critical interest.
Notably, for English readers, that would have meant in Shakespeare's works, but it took the efforts of Joseph Addison, John Dryden, and (from a negative standpoint) Jeremy Collier to constitute fairy writing as a distinct, momentous way or kind of writing rather than just as an occasional literary conceit.
A grand tradition of English music criticism dates back to the early 18th-century days of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele in The Spectator.
Caron places Hawthorne in a rich tradition of discourse about the purposes of satire that goes back to Joseph Addison and Richard Steele in the early eighteenth century.
Joseph Addison spoke of "The Fairy Way of Writing," Samuel Taylor Coleridge talked of "Faery Tales and Genii," others talked fairly indiscriminately of "wonder," "the marvellous," tales of "ghosts and monsters," "the supernatural," "the Gothic," and so forth.
His topics include the fairy way of writing; the sublime and the fantastic in Joseph Addison, Longinus, and Edmond Burke; Gothick pasts and Gothick futures in Horace Walpole and Mary Shelley; fairy unexplained in Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho; William Wordsworth and "Fable's Dark Abyss;" and Coleridge and Anna Letitia Barbauld on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Writer and politician Joseph Addison wrote, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Discover different points of view on all sorts of topics.