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10,000 Not Out

The History of The Spectator 1828 - 2020

10,000 Not Out invites readers to explore the rich and lively history of The Spectator, the world’s oldest current affairs magazine. Over the last two centuries, no other journal has brought its readers closer to the spheres of power and influence in Britain.

First issued in 1828 in the dying days of the Georgian era, The Spectator came out ready to spar—with the Tories and their Prime Minister, with a corrupt political system, and with the lackluster literary world of the day. More than fifty prime ministers later, The Spectator has not only watched the world change but waded into the fray: it has campaigned on consistently liberal lines, fighting for voters’ rights, free trade, a free press, and the decriminalization of homosexuality, while offering open-minded criticism of every modern taboo and orthodoxy. 

10,000 Not Out celebrates the magazine’s 10,000th issue and recounts the turbulent and tortuous tales of 192 years chock full of crises and campaigns, of literary flair and barbed wit. Eight chapters chart in technicolor the evolution of the title—from radical weekly newspaper, to moralizing Victorian guardian, to wartime watchdog, to satirical magazine, to High-Tory counselor, to the irreverent but influential magazine of the twenty-first century. Replete with extracts, anecdotes, and illustrations, the book turns up many forgotten episodes in the The Spectator’s long, lush history.

224 pages | 70 color plates, 30 halftones | 8 1/4 x 10 3/4

Biography and Letters

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"Butterfield's highly readable romp through its history reminds members of The Spectator club—it has always had a very clubby feeling—of editorial triumphs and disasters, commercial horrors and some remarkable luck."

Literary Review

"Few journals have cut such a dash through history and culture as The Spectator, and none have lasted as long. David Butterfield has immersed himself to excellent effect in the British magazine’s billion-word digitized archives, paying tribute to a unique institution as influential now as at any time in its 10,000 issue history. . . . Butterfield’s book demonstrates that [The Spectator] has simultaneously helped make and mirror the British psyche, and to read it is not just to read the mind of the British right, but also the heart of a complex country."


"The Spectator: the greatest magazine in the English language."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

"A gem of a book—in the hands of a superb writer. Butterfield’s attention to detail is fabulous, his storytelling magnificent and his playful affection for these often larger than life characters makes them leap off the page. A delight."

Emily Maitlis, Newsnight (UK)

"More than individually surprising discoveries about people and their strange ways, this history presents an intriguing moving picture of life inside Britain’s oldest weekly."

Christopher Howse, Daily Telegraph (UK)

"A rich and beautifully crafted chronicle, often hilarious and always informative."

A. N. Wilson, author of Prince Albert: The Man Who Saved the Monarchy

"The Spectator has always had its own mind—and its own life. David Butterfield has written a first-class biography of that life: the highs and lows, the feuds and affairs, the best jokes, the worst decisions—it's a treasure trove. A brilliantly readable history of the magazine, its life and its times."

Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator

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