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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is about the 18th-century author, for others, see Richard Steele (disambiguation) page.
Richard Steele

Sir Richard Steele (bap. 12 March 1672 – 1 September 1729) was an Irish writer and politician, remembered as co-founder, with his friend Joseph Addison, of the magazine The Spectator.

Steele was born in Dublin, Ireland to Richard Steele, an attorney, and Elinor Symes (née Sheyles); his sister Katherine was born the previous year. A member of the Protestant gentry, he was educated at Charterhouse School, where he first met Addison. He went on to Merton College, Oxford, then with joined the Life Guards of the Household Cavalry. He disliked British Army life, and his first published work, The Christian Hero (1701), attempted to point out the differences between perceived and actual masculinity. He afterwards became a dramatist, and his comedies, such as The Tender Husband (1703) met with some success. In 1706 he was appointed to a position in the household of Prince George of Denmark, consort of Anne of Great Britain. He also gained the favour of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford.

In 1705, Steele married a widow, Margaret Stretch, who died in the following year. At her funeral he met his second wife, Mary Scurlock, whom he nicknamed "Prue" and married in 1707. In the course of their courtship and marriage, he wrote over 400 letters to her. They were a devoted couple, their correspondence still being regarded as one of the best illustrations of a happy marriage, but their relationship was stormy. Mary died in 1718, at a time when she was considering separation. Their daughter, Elizabeth (Steele's only surviving legitimate child), married John Trevor, 3rd Baron Trevor.

In 1709, Steele founded a thrice-weekly satirical magazine, Tatler, which lasted only two years in its first incarnation. Addison was a frequent contributor. Following the demise of the Tatler, the two men founded The Spectator. A member of the Whig Kit-Kat Club, Steele became a Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1713, but was soon expelled for issuing a pamphlet in favour of the Hanoverian succession. When George I of Great Britain came to the throne in the following year, Steele was knighted and given responsibility for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London. While at Drury Lane, Steele wrote and directed The Conscious Lovers, which was an immediate hit. However, he fell out with Addison and with the administration over the Peerage Bill (1719), and in 1724 he retired to his wife's homeland of Wales, where he spent the remainder of his life.[1]

Steele remained in Carmarthen after Mary's death, and was buried there, at St Peter's Church. During restoration of the church in 2000, his skull was discovered in a lead casket, having previously been accidentally disinterred during the 1870s.


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Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
The Earl of Barrymore
George Dashwood
Member of Parliament for Stockbridge
With: Thomas Brodrick
Succeeded by
Thomas Brodrick
The Earl of Barrymore
Preceded by
Sir Brian Stapylton, Bt
Edmund Dunch
Member of Parliament for Boroughbridge
With: Thomas Wilkinson 1715–1718
Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Bt 1718–1722
Succeeded by
Conyers Darcy
James Tyrrell
Preceded by
Sir Roger Hill
Richard Grenville
Member of Parliament for Wendover
With: Richard Hampden
Succeeded by
Richard Hampden
The Viscount of Limerick


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

A favor well bestowed is almost as great an honor to him who confers it as to him who receives it.

Sir Richard Steele (bap. March 12, 1672 - September 1, 1729) was an Irish writer and politician, remembered, along with his friend, Joseph Addison, as co-founder of The Spectator magazine.



  • Though her mien carries much more invitation than command, to behold her is an immediate check to loose behavior; to love her is a liberal education.
    • Tatler (1709-1711), no. 49. On Lady Elizabeth Hastings.
  • Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
    • Tatler (1709-1711), no. 147.

Letters to His Wife (1707-1712)

  • I am come to a tavern alone to eat a steak, after which I shall return to the office.
    • October 28, 1707.
  • I was going home two hours ago, but was met by Mr. Griffith, who has kept me ever since. I will come within a pint of wine.
    • Eleven at night, January 5, 1708.
  • A little in drink, but at all times yr faithful husband.
    • September 27, 1708.
  • The finest woman in nature should not detain me an hour from you; but you must sometimes suffer the rivalship of the wisest men.
    • September 17, 1712.

The Spectator (1711-1714)

  • When you fall into a man's conversation, the first thing you should consider is, whether he has a greater inclination to hear you, or that you should hear him.
    • No. 49 (April 26, 1711).
  • Of all the affections which attend human life, the love of glory is the most ardent.
    • No. 139 (August 9, 1711).
  • Age in a virtuous person, of either sex, carries in it an authority which makes it preferable to all the pleasures of youth.
    • No. 153 (August 25, 1711).
  • Among all the diseases of the mind there is not one more epidemical or more pernicious than the love of flattery.
    • No. 238 (December 3, 1711).
  • Will Honeycomb calls these over-offended ladies the outrageously virtuous.
    • No. 266 (January 4, 1712).
  • A favor well bestowed is almost as great an honor to him who confers it as to him who receives it.
    • No. 497 (September 30, 1712).
  • No man was ever so completely skilled in the conduct of life, as not to receive new information from age and experience…
    • No. 544 (November 24, 1712).

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