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The beginning of journalism

In the 18th century the reading public increased remarkably. This was due to several circumstances, like the wish of the middle class to educate themselves, the improved circulating and communication systems, and the circulating libraries, where it was possible to borrow books at a penny a volume. The growth of the reading public encouraged the flourishing of prose. There was a widespread to be informed, and this led to the boom of journalism. People gathered in the popular coffee-houses to read the newspapers and the litarary periodicals. The best were The Tatler (1709) and The Spectator (1711), both largely written by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. Manners, litterature, stories, gossip, moral reflections, were the main themes of brief papers addressed to a middle-class audience. The two writers realised that the craetion of a group of characters would be well received by the readers, because a conversation was easier and more pleasant to read than an essay. So they created the Spectator Club, where the chief character was an eccentric country squire, Sir Roger de Coverley. In this way the essayist was no longer a detached authority but an armchair companion, talking pleasantly about life.

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