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A copy of the Tatler annotated and extra-illustrated by Weeden Butler

Call Number: MS E241


A complete set of the original issues of the Tatler British society magazine, dating from April 12, 1709- January 2, 1710, with the addition of interleaved manuscript annotations and published items. Loose items have been removed to MS P553.


  • Creation: 1709-1711; 1713; 1792


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

History of the <emph render="italic">Tatler</emph>

The Tatler, a British society and literary journal, was started by Richard Steele in 1709, using the pseudonym Isaac Bickerstaff.

Authorship statement varies: nos. 10 (May 3), 33 (June 25), 36 (July 2), 37 (July 5), 38 (July 7), "By Mrs. Jenny Distaff, half sister to Mr. Bickerstaff"; no. 247 (Nov 7) "By Jenny Distaff, half sister to Mr. Bickerstaff." In the final issue (271, Jan 2) the statement "by Isaac Bickerstaff Esq"; is omitted and Steele acknowledges authorship in the text.

Imprint varies: no. 1-4 "London: Printed for the author, 1709;" no. 5-271 "Sold by John Morphew near Stationers-Hall; where advertisements are taken in."

Frequency: The Tatler was published thrice weekly, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The dateline of no. 1 is "Tuesday, April 12. 1709;" the dateline from then on typically reads (no.2) "From Tuesday April 12 to Thursday April 14. 1709"; (no.3) "From Thursday April 14 to Saturday April 16. 1709"; etc.

Continuations: The original Tatler ended with no. 271 on Tuesday January 2, 1710/11. On January 4, what would have been the next regular day of publication, a Tatler appeared from the shop of J. Baker numbered 272. This one (in this library called "Continuation 1") seems to have died after its second issue.

On January 6 another Tatler ("Continuation 2") was published by Morphew, the publisher of the original. It was written as by Bickerstaff & its first issue was numbered 272, 273; it continued the tri-weekly frequency and lasted until no. 330 May 19, 1711. Another one ("Continuation 3") started January 13 as a semi-weekly with a new numbering; it was issued by Ann Baldwin and written by Wm Harrison (at Jonathan Swift's instigation), although the putative author was likewise Bickerstaff. After Harrison had written 6 numbers for Mrs. Baldwin he left her and joined Morphew beginning with 285, February 3; Baldwin's thus ended after 6 numbers and from 285 to 330 Morphew's continuation and Harrison's were one and the same.

As reprinted in volume form (as "v.5") Harrison's Tatler included nos. 1-6, printed for Mrs. Baldwin and nos. 285-330, printed for Morphew, the whole renumbered 1-52.

Printing: There is evidence of the existence of several states of these "original sheets" in no. 155 col.3 and no. 167 col.3; also see Butler notes. No. 255 col.3 states that "the last paper... [was] worked off in different presses."


2 Volumes (2 volumes + 1 folder) : Ornamentation: Unornamented except for adverts in nos. 97, 102, 105, 108, 111, 114 (being weekly adverts for "Record-Ink Powder", a.k.a. "Oldisworth's Record-Ink Powder"). ; Volumes measure no taller than 37 cm.

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Tatler. By Isaac Bickerstaff Esq; ... Numb. 1 [-271] April 12. 1709 [January 2. 1710 [O.S.]] [London: Printed for the author] 271 nos, in 2v. orn. 35cm.

Description of Manuscripts: In the annotations Weeden Butler gives historical and biographical background, frequently quoting from his friend Mr. Nichols (John Nichols, 1745-1826?), relates items from one issue to another, identifies allusions and nicknames, adds manuscript, copies of title pages, dedications, etc. from later collected editions, and makes critical and interpretative remarks. Notes are keyed to the text by manuscript symbols in the text. An autograph of Steele was mounted in vol.1 but is wanting. Butler signed these notes in more than one place, including following no.271, dated 7feb1804. Also in Special Collections at MS D33 is a copy of Edward Young’s Complaint: or, night-thoughts on life, death, & immortality (1743) heavily annotated by Butler.

Description of Printed Material: A complete set of the original issues with the addition of interleaved manuscript annotations by Weeden Butler the elder (1772-1823), some printed parts from the collected folio edition, a few extra-illustrations, some spurious continuations of the Tatler beyond no. 271, and other separately published items.

Physical Location

MS E241

Physical Location

MS P553

Custodial History

Bookplates in each volume: From the collection of Richmond P. Bond and Marjorie N. Bond.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bond, 1972

Guide to the Weeden Butler the Elder Collection
A copy of the Tatler annotated and extra-illustrated by Weeden Butler
Finding aid prepared by wlm, 1982; revised by ksc, 2006. Finding aid encoded by skt, 2006.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
A copy of the <emph render="italic">Tatler</emph> annotated and extra-illustrated by Weeden Butler, Department of Special Collections, MS E241, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States