The Age of Authors
An Anthology of Eighteenth-Century Print Culture
  • Publication Date: December 11, 2013
  • ISBN: 9781554810925 / 1554810922
  • 488 pages; 6" x 9"

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The Age of Authors

An Anthology of Eighteenth-Century Print Culture

  • Publication Date: December 11, 2013
  • ISBN: 9781554810925 / 1554810922
  • 488 pages; 6" x 9"

Eighteenth-century critics differed about almost everything, but if there was one point on which they almost universally agreed, it was that they were living through an age of extraordinary change. The texts in this collection respond to a series of fundamental questions about the changing nature of the literary field during a tumultuous age: What types of writing mattered in a thriving commercial nation? What kinds of knowledge ought literature to offer, if it was to continue to be relevant? What did it mean to be an author in this busy modern world, and what sorts of social distinction should authors expect to enjoy?

The Age of Authors explores the complexity, sophistication, and creativity with which the eighteenth century literary community (or “republic of letters”) responded to the challenges of the time.


The Age of Authors fills a real gap in eighteenth-century literary studies. It provides an engaging, splendidly edited, and far-ranging anthology of the opinions of the variegated and expanding authorial community as it faced a world of profound change in the status, meaning, and process of literary production. Including a rich selection of essays by both important and freshly discovered writers, with a lively introduction setting out the cultural context of the period, the book is an essential guide for any reader interested in eighteenth-century literature and print and book history.” — Barbara Benedict, Trinity College

A Timeline of Major Political and Legal Events
A Note on the Texts

Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)
A Tale of a Tub (1704)
Section 10: “A Tale of a Tub”

Daniel Defoe (1660–1731)
Essays upon Several Projects: Or, Effectual Ways for Advancing the Interest of the Nation (1702)
The History of Projects
Of Projectors
Of Academies
An Academy for Women

Richard Steele (1672–1729) and Joseph Addison (1672–1719)
The Spectator (1711–14)
Numb. 1 1 March 1711 [Introduction of Mr. Spectator]
Numb. 3 3 March 1711 [Dream Vision of Public Credit]
Numb. 10 12 March 1711 [Role of Periodical Writers]
Numb. 37 12 April 1711 [A Lady’s Library]
Numb. 85 7 June 1711 [Accidental Readings]
Numb. 124 23 July 1711 [Publishing in Volumes versus Loose Pages]
Numb. 411 21 June 1712 [The Pleasures of Imagination]
Numb. 529 6 November 1712 [Ranks in Literature]
Numb. 582 18 August 1714 [On the Itch of Writing]

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762)
Letters of the Right Honourable Lady M —y W —y M —e; Written, During Her Travels in Europe, Asia and Africa, to Persons of Distinction (1724)
Preface, by a Lady
Letter XXVI [From Adrianople, April 1, 1717]
Letter XXIX [From Adrianople, April 1, 1717]
Letter XXXIII [From Adrianople, April 18, 1717]
Letter XXXVII [From Belgrade-Village, June 17, 1717]

Ephraim Chambers (1680–1740)
Cyclopædia: Or, an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1728)
The Preface

The Grub-Street Journal (1730–37)
Numb. 4 29 January 1730 [Letter from a Bookseller]
Numb. 33 20 August 1730 [Proposal for a College]
Numb. 47 26 November 1730 [Letter from a Skeptical Reader]
Numb. 112 24 February 1731 [On Modern Theatre]
Numb. 115 16 March 1731 [On Modern Theatre]

Henry Fielding (1707–54)
The Author’s Farce (1730)

Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
An Epistle from Mr. Pope, to Dr. Arbuthnot (1735)

David Hume (1711–76)
Essays, Moral and Political (1742)
“Of Essay-Writing”
Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (1760)
“Of Refinement in the Arts”

Eliza Haywood (c. 1693–1756)
The Female Spectator (1744–46)
Book I [Introduction]
Book II [Method of Proceeding]
Book XXIV [Farewell to Readers]

Sarah Fielding (1710–68)
The Governess (1749)
The History of Mistress Teachum, and Her Nine Scholars.

Samuel Johnson (1709–84)
The Rambler (1750–52)
Numb. 16 12 May 1750 [Letter from a Young Author]
Numb. 21 29 May 1750 [Literary Success]
Numb. 60 13 October 1750 [On Biography]
Numb. 83 1 January 1751 [The Reciprocity of all Learning]
Numb. 136 6 July 1751 [On the Promiscuous Use of Dedications]
Numb. 137 9 July 1751 [The Heroes of Literature]
Numb. 145 6 August 1751 [Manufacturers of Literature]
Numb. 146 10 August 1751 [The Delusions of Authors]
Numb. 173 12 November 1751 [Against Pedantry]
The Adventurer (1752–54)
Numb. 115 11 December 1753 [The Age of Authors]

The World. By Adam Fitz-Adam. (1753–56)
Numb. 1 4 January 1753 [Introduction]
Numb. 64 21 March 1754 [Lord Finical’s Library]
Numb. 100 28 November 1754 [Notice of Johnson’s Dictionary]
Numb. 111 13 February 1755 [The Fate of Periodical Papers]
Numb. 209 30 December 1756 [The Death of Adam Fitz-Adam]

The Connoisseur by Mr. Town, Critic and Censor-General. (1754–56)
Numb. 3 14 February 1754 [Dream Reverie: The Ocean of Ink]
Numb. 29 15 August 1754 [The Fate of Periodical Papers]
Numb. 78 24 July 1755 [On Sociability]
Numb. 96 27 November 1755 [Proposal for a Literary Register Office]
Numb. 114 1 April 1756 [The Character of Authors]
Numb. 136 2 September 1756 [Knowledge of the World]
Numb. 140 30 September 1756 [Final Good Bye]

Oliver Goldsmith (1730–74)
The Bee. Being Essays on the Most Interesting Subjects (1759)
Numb. 1 6 October 1759 Introduction
Numb. 4 27 October 1759 Miscellaneous
Numb. 5 3 November 1759 A Resverie
Citizen of the World; or Letters from a Chinese Philosopher Residing in London to His Friends in the East (1762)
Editor’s Preface.
Letter 13 [A Visit to Westminster Abbey]
Letter 28 [Description of a Club of Authors]
Letter 29 [Proceedings of the Club of Authors]

James Ralph (d. 1762)
The Case of Authors By Profession or Trade, Stated (1758)

Elizabeth Montagu (1718–1800)
An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear (1769)

Hester Chapone (1727–1801)
Letters on the Improvement of the Mind (1773)
Dedication to Elizabeth Montagu
Letter 1: “On the First Principles of Religion”
Letter 8: “On Politeness and Accomplishments”
Letter 10: “On the Manner and Course of Reading History”

Catharine Macaulay (1731–91)
A Modest Plea for the Property of Copy Right (1774)

Hannah More (1745–1833)
Essays on Various Subjects, Principally Designed for Young Ladies (1777)
Dedication to Elizabeth Montagu
“Thoughts on the Cultivation of the Heart and Temper in the Education of Daughters”

Vicesimus Knox (1752–1821)
Essays, Moral and Literary (1778)
“On Modern Literature”
“Ill Effects of Reading Without Digesting”
“On Essay Writing”
“On Novel Reading”
Winter Evenings; or, Lucubrations on Life and Letters (1788)
Book the First
Chapter 6 “The Tedium of Literary Sameness”
Chapter 10 “On the Motives of Moral Writers”
Book the Fourth
Chapter 9 “On Genius for Conversation Being Distinct from a Genius for Composition”
Book the Fifth
Chapter 1 “Of Writing to the People”
Book the Sixth
Chapter 3 “Learning”
Chapter 10 “Of the Dull Style”
Book the Eighth
Chapter 3 “Of Supporting the Dignity of the Literary Republic”

The Mirror. A Periodical Paper, Published at Edinburgh in the Years 1779 and 1780.
Numb. 1 23 January 1779 [Introduction]
Numb. 93 28 March 1780 [Trifling Occurrences]
Numb. 110 27 May 1780 [Concluding Number]

The Lounger (1785–86)
Numb. 1 5 February 1785 [Introduction]
Numb. 2 12 February 1785 [The Science of Manners]
Numb. 5 5 March 1785 [On History Writing]
Numb. 20 18 June 1785 [The Danger of Novels]
Numb. 23 9 July 1785 [On the Treatment of Women in Books]
Numb. 30 27 August 1785 [Letter from a Member of the Mirror Club]

Clara Reeve (1729–1807)
The Progress of Romance, Through Times, Countries, and Manners (1785)
Evening I [Introductory Comments]
Evening II [The Origins of Romance]
Evening VII [Novels]
Evening VIII [Modern Novels]
Evening IX [Modern Novels, Continued]
Evening XII [Objections to Modern Novels Debated]

The Microcosm, A Periodical Work, By Gregory Griffin, Of the College of Eton (1786–87)
Numb. 1 6 November 1786 [Introductory Essay]
Numb. 26 14 May 1787 [On Novels]
Numb. 32 25 June 1787 [On the Difficulty of Choosing a Subject]
Numb. 38 23 July 1787 [The Power of Custom]
Numb. 39 30 July 1787 [Life of Gregory Griffin]
Numb. 40 30 July 1787 [News of the Death of Gregory Griffin]

Isaac D’Israeli (1766–1848)
An Essay on the Manners and Genius of the Literary Character (1795)
Chapter 1: “Of Literary Men”
Chapter 2: “Of Authors”
Chapter 3: “Of Men of Letters”
Chapter 7: “On the Meditations and Conversations of Men of Genius”

List of Major Figures, Places, and Terms
Editions Used
Works Cited and Suggested Further Reading

Paul Keen is Professor of English at Carleton University and the editor of Revolutions in Romantic Literature: An Anthology of Print Culture, 1780-1832.