Origin and development of the English Essay

Write a note on the origin and development of the English Essay.  Knowledge has grown not by mechanical repetition of all that was known before, but by training senses to observe new facets,

Knowledge has grown not by mechanical repetition of all that was known before, but by training senses to observe new facets, of a phenomenon and also by devising the mediums for suitable communication.

The English Essay seems to have been developed with this end in view. Bacon, Addison, and Steel made essay a very popular form which was delightful and also instructive.

Modern poetry in English literature (Click)

Development of the English Essay

Freeform pedantry, a personal essay as it came to be known brought new facets of familiar objects and situations in a delectable form, occasionally tinged with ridicule. Assuming the tone of a skilled conversation list, a personal essayist conducted a tour of many areas, a survey of many things while speaking chiefly about a single topic.

Francis Bacon was the first to attempt essay writing seriously. He found in the essay the form to put across ideas and thoughts that arose in the mind of educated persons who were in the habit of applying reason.

But his essays are highly personal also as they express his standpoint on matters, political, religious, social, or private. He was a well-read person and could think objectively. As a result, his essays contain serious reflections on topics that were open to discussion in his times.

English Essay Origin and Development

What makes his essays so appealing is the allusion to both familiar things and less-known academic aspects. While the allusion to familiar things satisfies the readers with some new perspective, the allusion to academic aspects forces the mind to take into account the historical and the philosophical details.

And Bacon was such a master of aphoristic style he could compress a lot in a single sentence, sometimes in a single metaphor. That made his observations easy to remember, individual and sparking.

During the eighteenth century, the term the ‘periodical essay’ was used by Joseph Addison to refer to a new category of essays. The periodical essay was intended to bring ‘philosophy out of closets and libraries, schools and colleges to dwell at clubs and assemblies, at tea tables and in coffeehouses.

” Accordingly, Joseph Addison wrote on light and topical things fashions, headdresses, practical jokes, polite conversation. His name is generally linked to Sir Richard Steel. Their periodicals.

Development of English Essay

The Tatler and The Spectator were quite successful in educating a whole generating in writing and speech. The periodical essay aimed at limiting the rhythm of polished conversation.

Despite having such a modest purpose, the periodical essay aroused the interest of the people in the common things and provided them with an idiom in which they could talk about them.

Origin and development of the English Essay
Origin and development of the English Essay

Charles Lamb, the nineteenth-century essayist, added to the essay the charm of autobiography. He wrote about his fantasies, dreams, views of people and things in an elegant language.

Among the Victorians, Thomas Carlyle was a leading essayist whose pieces were written in a bombastic, and yet, evocative and inspiring style. He wrote with a view of persuading his readers to a lofty philosophy to which end he employed select rhetorical devices.


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