Tatler: Wikis


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Richard Steele

Tatler (also, informally, The Tatler) has been the name of several British journals and magazines, each of which has viewed itself as the successor of the original literary and society journal founded by Richard Steele in 1709. The current incarnation, founded in 1901, is a glossy magazine published by Condé Nast Publications focusing on the glamorous lives and lifestyles of the upper class. A 300th anniversary party for the magazine was held in October 2009.[1]


1709 journal

The original Tatler was founded in 1709 by Richard Steele, who used the nom de plume "Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire", the first such consistently adopted journalistic personae,[2] which adapted to the first person, as it were, the seventeenth-century genre of "characters", as first established in English by Sir Thomas Overbury and soon to be expanded by Lord Shaftesbury's Characteristics (1711). Steele's idea was to publish the news and gossip heard in London coffeehouses, hence the title, and seemingly, from the opening paragraph, to leave the subject of politics to the newspapers[3], while presenting Whiggish views and correcting middle-class manners, while instructing "these Gentlemen, for the most part being Persons of strong Zeal, and weak Intellects...what to think." To assure complete coverage of local gossip, a reporter was placed in each of the city's popular coffeehouses, or at least such were the datelines: accounts of manners and mores were datelined from White's; literary notes from Will’s; notes of antiquarian interest were dated from the Grecian Coffee House; and news items from St. James’s.

In its first incarnation, it was published three times a week. The original Tatler was published for only two years, from 12 April 1709 to 2 January 1711. A collected edition was published in 1710–11, with the title The Lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq..[4]



Subsequent incarnations

Several later journals revived the name Tatler.[1] Three short series are preserved in the Burney Collection:[5]

  • Morphew, the original printer, continued to produce further issues in 1711 under the "Isaac Bickerstaffe" name from 4 January (No. 272) to 17 May (No. 330).
  • A single issue (numbered 1) of a rival Tatler was published by Baldwin on 11 January 1711.
  • In 1753–4, several issues by "William Bickerstaffe, nephew of the late Isaac Bickerstaffe" were published.

James Watson, who had previously reprinted the London Tatler in Edinburgh, began his own Tatler there on 13 January 1711, with "Donald Macstaff of the North" replacing Isaac Bickerstaffe.[6]

Three months after the original Tatler was first published, Mary Delariviere Manley, using the pen name "Mrs. Crackenthorpe," published what was called the Female Tatler. However, its run was much shorter: the magazine ran for less than a year—from 8 July 1709 to 31 March 1710.[7] The London Tatler[8] and the Northern Tatler[9] were later 18th-century imitations. The Tatler Reviv'd ran for 17 issues from October 1727 to January 1728; another publication of the same name had six issues in March 1750.[10]

On 4 September 1830, Leigh Hunt launched The Tatler: A Daily Journal of Literature and the Stage. He edited it till 13 February 1832, and others continued it till 20 October 1832.[11]

Modern magazine

The current publication, named after Steele's periodical, was introduced on 3 July 1901 by Clement Shorter, publisher of The Sphere. For some time a weekly publication, it had a subtitle varying on "an illustrated journal of society and the drama" It contained news and pictures of high society balls, charity events, race meetings, shooting parties, fashion and gossip, with cartoons by "The Tout" and H. M. Bateman.

In 1940, it absorbed The Bystander. In 1961, Illustrated Newspapers, which published Tatler, The Sphere, and The Illustrated London News, was bought by Roy Thomson.[12] In 1965, Tatler was rebranded London Life.[13][14] In 1968, it was bought by Guy Wayte's Illustrated County Magazine group and the Tatler name restored.[15] Wayte's group had a number of county magazines in the style of Tatler, each of which mixed the same syndicated content with county-specific local content.[15] Wayte, "a moustachioed playboy of a conman"[16] was convicted of fraud in 1980 for inflating the Tatler's circulation figures from 15,000 to 49,000[17]

It was sold and relaunched as a monthly magazine in 1977, called Tatler & Bystander till 1982.[14] Tina Brown, editor 1979–83, created a vibrant and youthful Tatler and is credited with putting the edge, the irony and the wit back into what was then an almost moribund social title. She referred to it as an upper class comic and by increasing its influence and circulation made it an interesting enough operation for the then owner, Gary Bogard, to sell to the Publishers Condé Nast. She was subsequently airlifted to New York to another Condé Nast title, Vanity Fair.

Several editors later and a looming recession and the magazine was once again ailing and Jane Procter was brought in to re-invent the title for the 1990s. With a sound appreciation of the times - the need for bite not bitch - plus intriguing, newsworthy and gently satirical content, she succeeded in making Tatler a glamorous must-read way beyond its previous social remit. The circulation tripled to over 90,000 - its highest ever figure. Procter was also a gifted marketer and the first to realise the importance of the magazine as a brand. She created the various band on supplements such as The Travel and Restaurant Guides, the famous lists like The Most Invited and The Little Black Book and the hugely popular parties that accompanied them.

Past editors

Clement Short 1901–
Edward Peter Huskinson 1908–40 Killed in 1941 by a train at Savernake station.[18]
Reginald Stewart Hooper 1940–45 Died in office. Previously editor of The Bystander from 1932.[19]
Col. Sean Fielding 1946–54[20] later of the Daily Express
Lt-Col. Philip Youngman-Carter 1954–57 earlier worked for Fielding as editor of Soldier[21]
Mark Boxer 1965 Officially "editorial director" of London Life. He was also the Times political cartoonist and creator of the Sunday Times magazine[13]
Ian Howard[13] 1965–
Robert Innes-Smith[15] 1968
Leslie Field 1978– The first woman, and first American, editor.[22]
Tina Brown[1] 1979–83
Libby Purves 1983[23][24]
Mark Boxer 1983–88[24] Second term; retired just before his death from brain cancer.[25]
Emma Soames 1988–90[24] "Sacked very publicly"[26]
Jane Procter 1990–99[27]
Geordie Greig[28] 1999–2009[29] resigned to become editor of the Evening Standard[29]
Catherine Ostler 2009– Previously editor of the Evening Standard's ES magazine[24]

Past contributors

Present editors

  • Catherine Ostler - Editor
  • Ahlya Fateh - Managing Editor
  • Gerri Gallagher - Associate Editor
  • Christopher Whale - Art Director
  • Millie Simpson - Picture Editor
  • Vassi Chamberlain - Editor-at-Large
  • Kate Chapple - Chief Sub-Editor
  • Anna Bromilow - Fashion Director
  • Olivia Falcon - Beauty Director
  • "Isaac Bickerstaff" - Social Editor
  • Lee Pears - Deputy Art Director
  • Nicola Formby - Chief Contributing Editor
  • Dorrit Moussaieff - Contributing Editor
  • Tom Wolfe - Contributing Editor
  • Jeremy Wayne - Restaurant Editor
  • Tessa Dahl - Contributing Editor

Other editions

There are also ten Tatlers in Asia - Hong Kong Tatler (launched 1977), Singapore Tatler (1982), Malaysia Tatler (1989), Thailand Tatler (1991), Philippine Tatler (2001), Indonesia Tatler (2000), Beijing Tatler and Shanghai Tatler (both 2001), Macau Tatler and Taiwan Tatler (2008). The Asian Tatlers are now owned by the Swiss-based Edipresse Group.

Unrelated Tatlers

Other magazines named Tatler have no connection to the London magazine or Condé Nast, although their content is a similar mix of fashion and local high-society news.

The Irish Tatler was founded by H. Crawford Hartnell in 1890 as The Lady of the House,[30] and later renamed Irish Sketch and Irish Tatler and Sketch.[31] Noelle Campbell Sharp renamed it IT in 1979.[32] She sold it to Robert Maxwell in 1989; Smurfit publications bought it after Maxwell's death. It is now Irish Tatler.[31]

Ulster Tatler has been published in Belfast since 1966.

The New York Tatler Social Digest merged in 1929 with the American Sketch to give Tatler and American Sketch.[33] John S. Schem closed the magazine in 1933 after legal trouble arising from its grading of New York débutantes, on a scale running "A", "B", "C", "D", and "E-Z".[34]


  1. ^ a b c 300 Years of Telling Tales, Britain’s Tatler Still Thrives Eric Pfaner, New York Times, 5 October 2009, p.B7
  2. ^ Bonamy Dobrée, 1959. English Literature in the Early Eighteenth Century 1700-1740 in series Oxford History of English Literature, pp 77-83.
  3. ^ ""principally intended for the Use of Politick Persons who are so publick-spirited as to neglect their own affairs to look into Transactions of State."
  4. ^ The Tatler, Literary Encyclopaedia
  5. ^ 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers Title List, Gale
  6. ^ Marr, George Simpson (1923). The periodical essayists of the eighteenth century.. London: J. Clarke. p. 29. http://www.archive.org/stream/periodicalessayi00marruoft#page/28/mode/2up.  
  7. ^ Issuing her Own: the Female Tatler, Latha Reddy and Rebecca Gershenson Smith, 2002. (Site includes sample issues #41 and #67)
  8. ^ Marr, George Simpson (1923). The periodical essayists of the eighteenth century.. London: J. Clarke. p. 72. http://www.archive.org/stream/periodicalessayi00marruoft#page/72/mode/2up.  
  9. ^ Marr, George Simpson (1923). The periodical essayists of the eighteenth century.. London: J. Clarke. p. 96. http://www.archive.org/stream/periodicalessayi00marruoft#page/96/mode/2up.  
  10. ^ George Watson, ed (1971). The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature. Volume 2; Volumes 1660-1800. Cambridge University Press. col.1330,1332. ISBN 0521079349. http://books.google.com/books?id=_6XlzEAIkuEC&lpg=PT99&pg=PT210.  
  11. ^ Ireland, Alexander (1868). List of the writings of William Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt. John Russell Smith. pp. 143–8. http://books.google.ie/books?id=jucEAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA143#v=onepage.  
  12. ^ City Editor (28 November 1961). "Magazine Group Purchased By Mr. Thomson New Development Planned, "Illustrated" Ring Accept Offer.". The Times: p. 12,col.G.  
  13. ^ a b c "Editor For 'London Life'". The Times: p. 6,col.C. 20 November 1965.  
  14. ^ a b Riley, Sam G. (1993). Consumer magazines of the British Isles. Historical guides to the world's periodicals and newspapers. Greenwood Press. pp. 209. ISBN 0313285624.  
  15. ^ a b c "The truth about the new Tatler". The Observer (ProQuest): pp. 40. 10 March 1968.  
  16. ^ "Queen of society revels in the spirit of mischief". The Guardian. 12 October 2009. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/queen-of-society-revels-in-the-spirit-of-mischief-1801208.html. Retrieved 19 October 2009.  
  17. ^ "Former magazine chief is convicted of fraud". The Guardian (ProQuest): p. 2. 1 February 1980.  
  18. ^ "Obituaries: Mr. Edward Huskinson". The Times: p. 7,col.E. 19 November 1941.  
  19. ^ "Obituary: Mr. R. S. Hooper". The Times: p. 6,col.E. 4 September 1945.  
  20. ^ "Resignation Of Editor Of "The Tatler"". The Times: p. 4; col F. 20 September 1954.  
  21. ^ Philip Youngman-Carter, by B.A. Pike, The Margery Allingham Society
  22. ^ Garner, Raymond (29 March 1978). "Raymond Garner takes tea with the Tatler, which is reborn next week with an American editor". The Guardian (ProQuest): p. 11.  
  23. ^ Morris, Rupert (6 July 1983). "Libby Purves forced to resign by Tatler ethos". The Times: p. 3, col.D.  
  24. ^ a b c d Brook, Stephen (10 February 2009). "Catherine Ostler confirmed as Tatler editor". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/feb/10/catherine-ostler-confirmed-tatler-editor. Retrieved 19 October 2009.  
  25. ^ Perera, Shyama (21 July 1988). "Tributes as cartoonist Mark Boxer dies at 57". The Guardian (ProQuest): p. 20.  
  26. ^ Barber, Lynn (1 December 2002). "Grey mischief". The Observer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2002/dec/01/features.magazine77. Retrieved 19 October 2009.  
  27. ^ Lane, Harriet (23 May 1999). "Tatler editor missing believed culled". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1999/may/23/theobserver.uknews2. Retrieved 19 October 2009.  
  28. ^ 'The Entertaining Mr Sloane: An Interview With Geordie Greig', The Observer, 1 May 2005
  29. ^ a b Luft, Oliver (3 February 2009). "New Tatler editor to be announced next week as Geordie Greig departs". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/feb/02/tatler-looks-to-replace-geordie-greig. Retrieved 19 October 2009.  
  30. ^ "Quidnunc" (10 October 1960). "An Irishman's Diary: Happy Birthday". The Irish Times: pp. 6.  
  31. ^ a b Ulrich's Periodicals Directory
  32. ^ O'Sullivan, Aidan (11 June 1981). "IT editor buys out her partner". The Irish Times: pp. 14.  
  33. ^ "The Press: Sketch Erased". Time. 1 April 1929. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,881282,00.html. Retrieved 20 October 2009.  
  34. ^ "Tatler abandons publishing field". New York Times: p. 17. 13 January 1933. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20A13FC3C5C16738DDDAA0994D9405B838FF1D3. Retrieved 20 October 2009.  

Further reading

  • "The Story of Tatler: A 300-year frolic through Tatler's history, from coffee-house tri-weekly to glossy monthly". Tatler: 71–114. November 2009.  

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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Proper noun




  1. An English surname of uncertain origin.



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