Jonathan Swift is remembered today as the author of three brilliant, difficult prose satires: A Tale of a Tub (1704), Gulliver's Travels (1726) and A Modest Proposal (1729). Many commentators consider them to be the supreme expressions of the satirical mode in the English language. This letter-diary covers the years 1710-1713 and is addressed to his friend Esther Johnson. The journal is quite different from the grand epistles Swift would later exchange with Pope, Gay and Bolingbroke, always with the likelihood of wider circulation or piratical publication in mind. Although Swift moved very near to the centre of political power during the years it covers, the Journal takes its tone from a long-established and very particular friendship. This electronic edition of Jonathan Swift's Journal to Stella has been running since the beginning of September 2007. For the first annual cycle of the journal it will be functioning as a 'beta' version, still very much under construction. On 2 September 2010 it will be relaunched from the beginning in its completed form, to mark the centenary of the events it records.
The site has been designed with a dual purpose in mind. In the first place, it is a diversion for curious readers and for lovers of Jonathan Swift's more famous works. But it is also intended as a scholarly resourse for students and teachers of Swift's writings, and for literary historians of the eighteenth century more generally. The biographies, booklists and chronologies that support the Journal have been prepared to a high academic standard, and all the information on this site may be used with confidence. One of the great advantages that this site has over conventional print editions is its hypertextuality. Where Swift mentions a recent issue of The Tatlerii that he has written anonymously (as he does on 23 September 1710, for example,) the reader is able to click instantly onto an electronic version of the essay. Conventional print media are too unwieldy for this sort of cross-referability. This electronic version of the Journal to Stella has informal links with the ongoing edition of Swift's collected works soon to be published by the Cambridge University Press.