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Joseph Addison, the "Kit-cat portrait", circa 1703–1712, by Godfrey Kneller
|Born||1 May 1672
Milston, Wiltshire, England
|Died||17 June 1719 (aged 47)
|Occupation||Writer and politician|
Joseph Addison (1 May 1672 – 17 June 1719) was an English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician. He was the eldest son of The Reverend Lancelot Addison. His name is usually remembered alongside that of his long-standing friend, Richard Steele, with whom he founded The Spectator magazine.
He was educated at Charterhouse School, where he first met Richard Steele, and at The Queen's College, Oxford. He excelled in classics, being specially noted for his Latin verse, and became a fellow of Magdalen College. In 1693, he addressed a poem to John Dryden, and his first major work, a book of the lives of English poets, was published in 1694.
In 1708 and 1709, Addison was a Member of Parliament for the borough of Lostwithiel. He was soon appointed secretary to the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Wharton. Under the direction of Wharton, he was an MP in the Irish House of Commons for Cavan Borough from 1709 until 1713. in 1710, he represented Malmesbury, in his home county of Wiltshire, holding the seat until his death in 1719.
Addison's character has been described as kind and generous, although somewhat cool and non passionate, with a tendency for good-humoured excess. His appealing manners and conversation contributed to his general popularity. He often put his friends under obligations for substantial favours, but he showed great tolerance toward his few enemies. His essays are noted for their clarity and elegant style, as well as their cheerful and respectful humour.
While residing in Holland House, London he passed away on 17 June 1719 (age 48). Addison was buried in Westminster Abbey. On 6 April 1808, a town in upstate New York, (Middletown) was renamed Addison, in his honor.
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