The Spectator

F. C. Westley

General Description

Date: 1828-


◦ Blake, Robert. “A History of theSpectator”. Spectator ccxli (September 23, 1978). pp.30-35.

◦ Thomas, William Beach. The Story of the Spectator, 1828-1928. London: Methuen and Co.,1928.

Scholarly Commentary


The Spectator.London: F.C. Westley 1828--.

Robert Stephen Rintoul founded The Spectator in 1828 as a weekly paper of news and commentary. He intended it to be impartial and even-tempered, but the paper has always worn the colors of Liberalism, particularly after the Reform debates of the 1830s.The Spectator struggled through its first decade, but by 1840 had established itself among the profitable London weeklies. In 1861, Meredith Townsend bought the paper and together with his partner, Richard Holt Hutton, established its Victorian reputation as a serious and acute source of information and criticism. St. Loe Strachey assumed editorial duties in 1886 and led the paper into the 20th century and through World War I, with a circulation ranging from 13,000 to 22,000 during that period. Outspoken on issues such as parliamentary reform, the Irish question, colonialism, and the American Civil War,The Spectatorwas a reliable and significant voice of Liberalism in the Victorian era.

The Spectator offers a rich field of reviews to the student of Victorian literature and art. Among these, the Pre-Raphaelites are fairly well-represented, although Thomas claims that the paper was “rather slow to find any virtue in the Pre-Raphaelite artists and Millais” ( 211 ). Swinburne contributed poems, letters, and reviews to The Spectator from 1862 until 1884 and WMR, who was made the art editor in 1851, contributed regularly in the 1850s. As was the case when he was art editor for The Critic, he allowed his brother to contribute to these articles, and in several cases in 1851 DGR wrote substantial parts of the art criticism that was being printed under WMR's authority.

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