Periodicals in the Neoclassical Age

Periodicals in the Neoclassical Age

Q. Write a detailed note on periodicals in the Neoclassical Age (Neoclassical literature).

What is a periodical?

A periodical is a publication that appears at regular intervals, such as daily, weekly, monthly, or annually. It contains articles, stories, research, or other types of content. Common examples of periodicals include newspapers, magazines, and academic journals.

Each periodical issue often has a consistent format and covers various topics. Periodicals are essential in providing readers with updated information, entertainment, and scholarly content, depending on their type and purpose.

Periodicals in the Neoclassical Age 

The Neoclassical Age, spanning the late 17th to early 19th centuries, marked a transformative period in English literature. During this time, periodicals like journals and magazines became very popular. It was a prominent feature of that period.

These periodicals became vital platforms for writers, thinkers, and the emerging middle class to discuss literature, politics, manners, and societal issues. Pioneered by eminent writers like Richard Steele, Joseph Addison, and Samuel Johnson, these publications blended news, essays, satire, and literary criticism.

They not only shaped the literary norms of the time but also played a pivotal role in shaping public opinion, fostering debates, and reflecting the cultural zeitgeist of the age.

The popularity and influence of periodicals during this era highlight their significance in the evolution of English literature and journalism. The following are the famous periodicals of the time:

  1. The Tatler (1709–1711)
  2. The Spectator (1711–1722)
  3. The Guardian (1713)
  4. The Freeholder (1715–1716)
  5. The Old Whig (1719)
  6. The Rambler (1750–1752)
1- The Tatler (1709–1711)

The Tatler was a famous British magazine that combined news with fun stories. It started in 1709 and ended in 1711.

Richard Steele started it, and Joseph Addison also wrote for it.

Publication Frequency
The magazine was published three times a week.

Content Focus
It covered topics like society gossip, politics, literature, and deep thoughts.

Pseudonyms and Style
Some writers used fake names for their writings. This way, readers only sometimes knew who was behind each piece.

Fictional Framework

Stories sometimes came from made-up places like the Trumpet Coffee House or White’s Chocolate House, making the magazine unique.

2- The Spectator (1711–1712)

The Spectator was a famous magazine in London. It started in 1711 and went on until 1712. It came back in 1714 for a short time.

Two men, Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, established this magazine and wrote many of its stories and articles.

Publication Frequency
The Spectator came out every day except Sundays. So, people have a lot of new things to read.

Focus of Content
The magazine wanted to be fun but also teach suitable lessons. It did not talk much about politics but more about being a good person.

Other than Steele and Addison, famous writers like Alexander Pope also wrote for the magazine. They added more ideas and stories to it.

3- The Guardian (1713)

The Guardian was a short-lived periodical that began publishing in 1713 in London, following the successful model of The Spectator.

The key figures behind “The Guardian” were Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, who had previously collaborated on “The Tatler” and “The Spectator.”

Publication Frequency
It was a daily publication, offering fresh content to its readers daily.

Focus of Content
The Guardian aimed to discuss societal issues, manners, literature, and more, providing readers with both entertainment and moral instruction.

While Steele and Addison were the primary writers, “The Guardian” also saw contributions from notable writers like Alexander Pope.

4- The Freeholder (1715–1716)

The Freeholder was a periodical that emerged in 1715 and made its mark in the early 18th-century London literary scene. It ran for a relatively short duration, ending in 1716.

Joseph Addison was the leading mind behind The Freeholder. Known for his previous successful ventures in periodicals, Addison took on this project with a specific vision.

Publication Frequency
The periodical was published twice a week, ensuring regular content for its readers during its run.

Focus of Content
The Freeholder was primarily political. It championed Whig beliefs and showed topics like constitutional monarchy. It also addressed the risks associated with Jacobitism, reflecting the political tensions of the time.

While Addison was the primary contributor, writing most of the essays, other writers might have made occasional contributions. However, Addison’s voice and perspective were dominant throughout the publication.

5- The Old Whig (1719)

The Old Whig was a periodical that emerged in 1719, entering the political and literary landscape of early 18th-century London. 

The periodical is attributed to both Alexander Pope and Joseph Addison, two prominent literary figures of the time.

Publication Frequency:
Specific details about its consistent publication frequency are less widely documented, but it was not a daily publication. Given its nature as a response piece, its issuance might have been more sporadic, aligning with the ongoing debate.

Focus of Content:
The core content of The Old Whig revolved around political discussions, particularly opposing the views presented in “The Plebeian.”

While Alexander Pope and Joseph Addison were the primary minds behind the periodical, other writers and thinkers of the era might have contributed either directly or through influence. However, Pope and Addison’s voices were dominant, shaping the narrative and direction of “The Old Whig.”

6- The Rambler (1750–1752)

The Rambler was a significant periodical introduced in the mid-18th century. From 1750 to 1752, it offered readers a blend of essays on various topics, making a notable impact on the literary scene of its time.

The primary force behind “The Rambler” was Samuel Johnson, a towering figure in English literature.

Publication Frequency
The Rambler was published twice weekly, ensuring its readers received regular content throughout its run.

Focus of Content
The Rambler’s content was diverse, with essays covering various subjects. While some pieces delved into moral and philosophical discussions, others explored societal observations, manners, and everyday life. 

Samuel Johnson was the main contributor and penned most of the essays in the periodical. His unique voice and perspective shaped the narrative and themes of The Rambler.


Periodicals in the Neoclassical Age played a significant role in shaping ideas and culture. Magazines like The Tatler and The Spectator introduced new topics to the public, from politics to daily life.

They helped people discuss big issues and also enjoy light stories. Many famous writers, like Samuel Johnson, shared their thoughts in these papers.

These periodicals made a lasting impact; even today, we look back at them to better understand that time. They show how powerful writing can influence and change society.

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