Joseph Addison



Samuel Johnson once wrote, "Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the study of Addison." From his birth in Milston, Wiltshire in the south of England to his days in the British government, Joseph Addison found ways of making his writing work for him. At age 21, Addison had already graduated from Oxford, been made a fellow of Magdalen, and had developed relationships with Dryden and others. He had also published a book, and an original translation of Georgics by Virgil. His notoriety eventually landed him a £300 pension to tour Europe, and he returned to England in 1704, where his state commissioned poem The Campaign earned him a post as Commissioner of Appeals in Halifax. While working in various government positions, including Secretary of State, Addison worked closely with Richard Steele, first as a writer for the Tatler, which first ran in 1709, and then as a co-founder of the Spectator and the Guardian between 1711 and 1714. His drama, Cato, was released in 1713, and by 1715 he had begun work on his political paper, The Freeloader. He passed away at Holland House in Kensington, west London in 1719. He was 47 years old.

(Compiled by Joey Franklin)

See also

Essays by Joseph Addison

The adventures of a shilling

We shillings love nothing so much as traveling.

On the essay form

An Essay-Writer must practise in the Chymical Method, and give the Virtue of a full Draught in a few Drops.

The free-holder no. 45

Those who supply the world with such entertainments of mirth as are instructive, or at least harmless, may be thought to deserve well of mankind.


It seems but reasonable that we should be capable of receiving Joy from what is no real Good to us, since we can receive Grief from what is no real Evil.

The Spectator No. 476

It is sufficient that I have several Thoughts on a Subject, without troubling my self to range them in such order, that they may seem to grow out of one another, and be disposed under the proper Heads.

On Westminster Abbey

The Condition of the People who lye in i[Westminster Abbey], are apt to fill the Mind with a kind of Melancholy, or rather Thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable.
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana by Patrick Madden

Quotidiana site founder Patrick Madden has just published a book of his own personal essays, including pieces formerly published in the Best American Spiritual Writing and Best Creative Nonfiction anthologies. If you enjoy the classical essays on this site, you'll enjoy these contemporary ruminations as well. Soon there'll be a web page here with further information, but for now, you can find out more (and perhaps purchase a copy) at

"Patrick Madden is an essayist of verve, passion, wit, and dependable moral compass. Quotidiana drew me in powerfully, from page to page and from pleasure to pleasure." —Ian Frazier

2011 Symposium on the Essay
Welcome Table Press Symposium on the Essay

Friend of Quotidiana Kim Dana Kupperman's Welcome Table Press is hosting a one-day symposium at Fordham University on Saturday, October 15th, 2011. In Praise of the Essay: Practice & Form will feature talks and discussions by Phillip Lopate, Robin Hemley, Barbara Hurd, and more.


Join Us on Facebook
facebook logo

Changes are happening beneath the hood of Quotidiana. Sign up for our Facebook group to stay up to date on site and essay news.