The History of Essay Writing

Updated Aug 19, 2021

Essay Writing, a Brief History

By Matthew

Essay writing is an art form that has a long and complicated history. The oldest essays, in the form of "letters" from one intellectual to another, date back to the ancient Greeks. Essays were originally written as letters to other intellectuals, so that they could discuss and debate the ideas in their writings.

The essay form continued to evolve, eventually turning into an important art form in both French and English literature. During the late 18th century, essay writing became a popular art form in France and England. The French essayists of this time period are known for their critical analysis of the culture around them, with the use of many illustrations and examples. Examples of French essayists are Montaigne, who started the form in the 16th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Madame de Lambert, and Restif de la Bretonne. English essayists during this time period include Jonathan Swift, Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, and James Boswell. One thing that these two sets of writers have in common is that they used wit to provide commentary on their subjects while using sharp intellect to expose society's flaws and contradictions.

Essay writing has evolved from letters between intellectuals to something that is now an art form that is used as a way to voice one's opinion on a topic in a manner that allows readers to better understand its nuances. Modern essays are sometimes written in a formal style, using proper grammar and a formal tone. Modern essays are also more accessible to the average reader, since they are written in simple language. Writing a good essay is now considered to be an art form because it requires the writer to use critical thinking skills and put them into words that are accessible to all readers. It also requires that you rewrite your essay to make sure you are communicating effectively with your audience.

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