The Rise of Coffee Houses and Journalism Essay

CLC: The Rise of Coffee Houses and Journalism Once upon a time when there was no “Starbucks”; with the rise of the restoration in England, along came a trend following war and plague of renewed need and interest in reading, but little money to pay for the material. As printed matter became more readily available, most English people still could neither read nor write as late as the beginning of the 18th century (PBS, 2001). The first newspaper ran from 1702 to 1735; a “one-sheet,” publication offered in London; “The Daily Courant”.

The Courant and many others, found an increasing audience because of mass printing via the invented press which led to upwards of eight daily newspapers in publication in London by the century’s close (2001). In the 1700s, books were extremely costly; hand bound, and had limited availability. Short episodic stories which evolved into novels as we know them, materialized between 1715 and 1755; the achievement of four professional London writers, including Daniel Defoe with his Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, Samuel Richardson, with Pamela, Tobias Smollett’s Humphrey Clinker and Roderick Random, and Tom Jones by Henry Fielding.

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Practicality and realism was what the 17th century journalism was all about. However, Alexander Pope; an author who added an alternate style to writing when he authored “The Rape of the Lock” This mock epic about a cutting of hair satirized the traditional epic poems of the period. The natural sciences gained interest through actual “hands on” research and the public’s curiosity was aroused. The “Books of Wonders” of strange but true topics became popular, as well as spooky stories of vampires, monsters, criminals, and terror.

This ignited “Bloods and Thrilling Shockers”; eight page gory and violent novels in serial form were sold for a penny per copy (2001). Among the popular “Penny Dreadful” writers were Michael Anglo, “Penny Dreadful and Other Victorian Horrors”, and Henry James, “The Turn of the Screw”. The penny dreadful was produced furiously, forcing publishers to cull ideas from any source available; adding gruesome details to popular fiction, tales of legend, and newspaper’s petty crimes.

The largely fashionable Sweeney Todd made debut of his sinister work in issue number 7 of The People’s Periodical and Family Library, dated November 21, 1846 (2001). Coffee houses originated in London as of 1652 (Norton and Company, 2010). By the monarchy of Charles II, they were considered to be “places where the disaffected met and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His majesty and his ministers”. The public gravitated to them despite the attempt at suppression (2010). Everybody who was anybody was meeting at the 551 coffeehouses in London by the year of 1739.

They were meeting places for discussing politics of the Tories and Whigs, the latest of fashion and haberdashery, intellect and clergy, books, and art were all shared among its frequenting public (2010). The River Thames had seafaring traffic from around the world in the day while London offered citizens a bustling hub of manufacturing, trade, and finance from all over the world. Londoners still managed to fit pleasure in with the activities of business (Gascoigne, Bamber 2001). By the middle of the day; fellows would stop by the “coffee club” to catch up with the news of friends and buddies (2001).

A new periodical brought in 1709, introduced humor of a gentler style with comedy and satire, three times a week, shipped direct to London’s coffee houses. “The Tatler”, founded by Richard Steele; his friend Joseph Addison, and their combined contributions; together they turned the calm and casual essay into a new journalistic art form (2001). “The “Tatler” of 1709, was designed to do just that-tattle on people’s peccadilloes in London’s coffeehouses” (Simon, 2009). In other words, the “Tatler” was comparable to today’s TMZ or National Enquirer. Steele and Addison later replaced the Tatler with the daily Spectator in 1711 (2001).

Much as they are today, coffee-houses were a gathering place for the local citizens. It was a place where people could sit, chat, and read newspapers or magazines. “The coffee house became a meeting place for exchanging merchandise and ideas following 1689, rather than for politics and religion. “Coffee houses were often called “Penny Universities” because for the price of one penny only, anyone could go in and listen to the conversations of poets, writers, philosophers, politicians, artists, economists, bankers and adventurers” (Mutarita, 2003).

It seemed to come into its own. Newspapers provided stimulus for conversations, gossip, and entertainment which became accepted followed by demanded” (Hughes, 2009). The new type of medium expression and communication of news and ideas were written with a journalistic flair; magazines, newspapers, and journals; utilized for entertainment and communication. A magazine by the name, “A Current of General News”, published in 1622- 1623, contained the earliest reporting in England. (Aboutenglish. com, 2010).

The Journalism introduced by this magazine opened the doors for many other writers. “Throughout the 17th century other magazines (“Mercurius Britannicus” was the most famous one) and, mainly political pamphlets and moral tracts were published cheaply and distributed widely. These magazines opened the way to a fuller development of the periodicals, reviews and newspapers of the next century” (Bindo, 2003). Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe, had natural talent for journalism predating the newspaper era which accommodated his kind of material (Gascoigne, Bamber 2001).

In 1712 he found, and wrote a tri-weekly periodical completely alone; “the Review”, which lasted only a year. Defoe’s impulse was to create what came to be called “feature articles” which marked him as the standard journalist (2001). The “Augustan Age”, the first part of the seventeenth century, gave interior stability and wealth to England in the aftermath of the previous century’s plague and wars. The new middle class of traders, merchants, bankers, and other professionals had created the wealth of the country, were now growing in both power and prestige (Aboutenglish. com, 2010).

While they developed an interest for education and news, increased literacy caused journalism to boom. The increase of these newspapers and periodicals became all the rage with both with upper and middle classes (2010). The coffee houses and journalism were a stepping stone that helped to influence the development of the English verbal communication. Newspapers continued to became increasingly popular through to the arrival of the 18th century. Due to its nature of delivering information, entertainment, and political headlines, it held the interest of many of the community.

With the growth of paper came the increase of readership as newspapers went from being just a limited conversation among friends, next appearing in London coffeehouses, to finally being distributed everywhere, as they are today” (Milbourne, 2010). The correlation between journalism and coffee houses, helped to increase the growth of the English language and literature of the present. Coffee houses and journalism were a stepping stone that helped to influence the development of the English verbal communication. References Bindo, T. , 2003.

The Age of Journalism. English Press: Then and Now. http://www. aboutenglish. it/englishpress/journalismage. htm Gascoigne, Bamber. “History of [Literature]” HistoryWorld. From 2001, ongoing. http://www. historyworld. net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories. asp? ParagraphID=kjq Hughes, Tim. 2009. Coffee House newspapers: a brief history… History’s Newsstand Blog Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers. http://blog. rarenewspapers. com/? p=1035 Mutarita. 2003. The Age of Reason 1668-1776. English. freehosting. net http://english. freehosting. et/ageofreason. htm#Main Historical Facts Milbourne, Lindsay. 2010. Newspapers and Periodicals. British Literature Wiki. http://britlitwiki. wikispaces. com/Newspapers+and+Periodicals? f=print Norton and Company, 2010. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Norton Topics PBS: Newspaper, Novel, and Blood, 2001. Retrieved from: http://www. pbs. org/kqed/demonbarber/penny/newspaper. html Simon, Jeff. 2009. Jeff Simon column: The Buffalo News, N. Y. , The Buffalo News. Online:The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century.

Retrieved on June 17, 2010 from: http://www. wwnorton. com/college/english/nael/18century/topic_1/coffeehouses. htm Gascoigne, Bamber. “History of [Literature]” HistoryWorld. From 2001, ongoing. http://www. historyworld. net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories. asp? ParagraphID=kjq The English Press: Then and Now (ND). The Age of Journalism. Retrieved on June 17, 2010 from: http://www. aboutenglish. it/englishpress/journalismage. htm PBS: Newspaper, Novel, and Blood, 2001. Retrieved from: http://www. pbs. org/kqed/demonbarber/penny/newspaper. html


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