Joseph Addison Additional Biography

Biography

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Joseph Addison might easily have followed in his father’s footsteps: attending Oxford University, becoming a minister of the Anglican Church, pursuing a series of increasingly important ecclesiastical posts, and supporting the divine right of Stuart kings. Addison, however, took a different path.

Two revolutionary currents swept up Addison while he was at Oxford. The first was an enthusiasm for the “New Philosophy,” the scientific method that was challenging the supremacy of classical philosophy; the second was the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which brought William III to the throne in place of James II and established the principle that Parliament’s choice for a king weighed equally with God’s anointing of his earthly representative. Addison followed the traditional classical curriculum at Oxford (where he achieved his first literary reputation for Latin poetry), but with the idea of supporting a new English culture and political order. Based on the Roman concept of an educated citizenry, this new order, Addison and like-minded revolutionaries hoped, would be the greatest civilization England had yet known: A literate and cultured populace would sensibly cooperate in their own government to develop a thriving commercial economy at home and to achieve leadership among European nations.

While at Oxford, Addison expressed his enthusiasm for this new concept of England in poems that brought him to the attention of leading Whig politicians. In 1699, Lord Somers and Lord Halifax secured for Addison a grant from William III, allowing Addison to travel throughout the Continent in preparation for government service. Addison remained abroad until late 1703, when William’s death ended the pension. He produced little for the next year until, at the request of two of Queen Anne’s ministers, he wrote The Campaign to celebrate the military victories of the duke of Marlborough against the French. This successful poem, which was published in 1705, won for Addison a position as commissioner of appeals.

This post placed Addison in a circle of Whig politicians and writers called the Kit-Kat Club. The powerful politicians supported the writers by patronage; the writers...

(The entire section is 902 words.)

Biography

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

As the son of an Anglican clergyman, Joseph Addison received a good education, beginning in Lichfield and continuing at the Charterhouse School, where he first met his longtime friend and collaborator, Richard Steele.

After attending Magdalen College, Oxford, Addison determined on a career in public service. Thanks to influential politicians, he received a pension which enabled him to tour Europe (1699-1703) and learn at first hand about the countries with which he might one day have to deal as a diplomat. After the success of his poem “The Campaign,” celebrating the victory at Blenheim over the French, Addison was appointed a Commissioner of Appeals. He held a series of increasingly important secretaryships until 1710, when a change of administration cost him his position. An ardent Whig partisan, he was able to combine service in Parliament, political appointments and patronage, and a literary career throughout his adult life. For years, Addison lived solely as a man of letters, writing hundreds of essays for several different papers and bringing a tragedy, Cato (1713), to the stage. The accession of George I in 1714 brought Addison back into government service, but he retired in 1718 after a brief tenure as secretary of state. He had married the dowager Countess of Warwick in 1716, only three years before his death.

Biography

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Joseph Addison might easily have followed in his father’s footsteps: attending Oxford University, becoming a minister of the Anglican Church, pursuing a series of increasingly important ecclesiastical posts, and supporting the divine right of the Stuart kings. However, Addison, like many other sons, took a different path.

Two revolutionary currents swept up Addison while he was at Oxford. The first was an enthusiasm for the “New Philosophy,” the scientific method that was challenging the supremacy of classical learning. The second was the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which brought William III to the throne in place of James II and established the principle that Parliament’s choice of a king weighed equally with...

(The entire section is 718 words.)

Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111206484-Addison.jpg Joseph Addison Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Joseph Addison is perhaps best remembered today as the journalistic partner of Richard Steele and as the creator of that quaint and fascinating country gentleman Sir Roger de Coverley. To his contemporaries, however—his friends, the fellow members of the Kit-Cat Club, and even his political and literary enemies, among whom, eventually, were both Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope—and to the generation following his, he was considerably more. In the opinion of the eighteenth century reading public he was an outstanding poet, a penetrating critic, a major playwright, and a consummate master of style. He was, in short, one of the brilliant literary figures of his time, quite in keeping with the spirit of an age that produced a...

(The entire section is 886 words.)