Joseph Addison wrote in almost every genre flourishing in British literature during the reigns of William III and Queen Anne. In addition to his three plays, Addison wrote verse in Latin and in English, a travel book, a scholarly account of ancient Roman coins, political pamphlets, and hundreds of essays for The Tatler, The Spectator, and other periodicals. This variety reflects the active literary culture of the time, Addison’s own wide learning, and his search for his proper niche.
Because of Addison’s varied canon, there has yet to be a satisfactory complete edition. The first attempt, by Thomas Tickell in 1721, omitted some embarrassing early works and many of the periodical essays. Another collected edition a century later restored some early works and offered a fuller selection of essays. Two good modern critical editions cover most of Addison’s corpus: A. C. Guthkelch’s The Miscellaneous Works (1914) includes the plays as well as the poetry and nonperiodical prose works, and Donald Bond’s The Spectator (1965) covers Addison’s essays for the most famous periodical to which he contributed. Essays written for other journals await modern editions. Addison’s Letters, an unrevealing collection, was published in 1941.