A political biography of an author, as I think of it, overlaps considerably with both literary biography and personal biography, but it di ers from both. Its de ning characteristic seems to me its concern for the ways in which a particular author with a distinct personality uses writing as a way of understanding and in uencing the political history of his time. A political biography will not be blind to its subject’s love-life, marriage, children, friendships and places of residence, but, however much they serve to de ne the subject as a person, they will not be matters of major concern. But political ideas, in uences, contacts, friendships and speci c activities will be primary. While other biographies are characteristically tied to chronology, sometimes at the expense of narrative coherence, a political biography can be thematic, tracing the development of particular ideas and topics, elucidated historical contexts, and listening to active dialogues. is is the kind of limited biography I have tried to write here without seriously distorting Richard Steele in the process, either by neglecting his evident personality or by exaggerating his political originality. Steele was the subject of major biographies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. George Aitken’s two-volume Life of Richard Steele is particularly useful in the documentary evidence it supplies and in the detail with which it looks at Steele’s personal life and political contacts.1 Its careful attention to Steele’s chaotic nancial situation will never be duplicated, but it pays relatively little attention to his writings. Calhoun Winton’s two books on Steele’s life correct Aitken’s occasional errors, provide important new material and give a fuller picture of his life and work.2 I think of the present study as a supplement to Winton’s work that places Steele within the political discourse of his very political age.