Tatler is a British magazine, which is 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 society, fashion, politics and lifestyle. It describes itself as ‘The oldest and best magazine in the entire world. Ever. Funny, clever, beautiful, cool and prone to smugness: we’re your NBF’ . Being more than three centuries old, it is the oldest magazine in the world and its 300th anniversary was celebrated with a party at Lancaster House in October 2009.
The original Tatler was founded in 1709 by Richard Steele, who used the nom de plume "Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire". This is the first known such consistently adopted journalistic persona, which adapted to the first person, as it were, the 17th-century genre of "characters", as first established in English by Sir Thomas Overbury and then 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, 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 Coffee House.
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. Two months after the final edition, Steele and Joseph Addison, another major contributor to Tatler, co-founded The Spectator magazine.
Several later journals revived the name Tatler. Three short series are preserved in the Burney Collection:
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.