The Press: Jeremy Black Charts Its Growth in Victorian Britain. (New Agendas)

By Black, Jeremy | History Review, March 1998 | Go to article overview

The Press: Jeremy Black Charts Its Growth in Victorian Britain. (New Agendas)


Black, Jeremy, History Review


One of the many ways in which Victorian London was at the centre of British life and that of the British Empire was by the provision of news. Much of the news was of course made in London, but much was not; whichever was the case, it was London newspapers that spread information and orchestrated opinion. Through its press, London created the image and idiom of Empire, shaped its opinions and laid claim to the title of the `fourth estate' of the realm. Aside from this political function, the press also played a central economic, social and cultural role, setting and spreading fashions, whether of company statements or through theatrical criticism. In what was increasingly a commercial society, the press played a pivotal role inspiring emulation, setting the tone, fulfilling crucial needs for an anonymous mass-readership in a society in which alternative means of spreading opinion, such as the church, appeared increasingly weak or redundant.

The press was itself affected by change, by the energising and disturbing forces of commercialization and new technology. It was to be legal reform and technological development that freed the Victorian press for major growth. Newspapers had become expensive in the eighteenth century, in large part due to successive rises in Stamp Duty. In the mid-nineteenth century these so-called `taxes on knowledge' were abolished: the Advertisement Duties in 1853, the Newspaper Stamp Duty in 1855 and the Paper Duties in 1861. This opened up the possibility of a cheap press and that opportunity was exploited by means of a technology centred on new printing presses and the continuous rolls or `webs' of paper that fed them. Web rotary presses were introduced in Britain from the late 1850s. The Walter press was first used by The Times in 1868 and by The Daily News in 1873, while The Daily Telegraph purchased the American Bullock presses in 1870. Mechanical typesetting was introduced towards the end of the century, linotype machines appearing in newspaper offices in the 1890s.

New technology was expensive but mass readership, opened up by the lower prices that could be charged after the repeal of the newspaper taxes, justified the cost. The consequence was more titles and lower prices. The number of daily morning papers published in London rose from 8 in 1856 to 21 in 1900, of evenings from 7 to 11, while there was a tremendous expansion in the suburban press. The repeal permitted the appearance of penny dailies. The Daily Telegraph, launched in 1855, led the way and by 1888 had a circulation of 300,000, while that of The Daily News rose from 50,000 in 1868 to 150,000 in 1871. The penny press was in turn squeezed by the halfpenny press, the first halfpenny evening paper, The Echo, appearing in 1868, while halfpenny morning papers became important in the 1890s with The Morning Leader (1892) and The Daily Mail (1896), which was to become extremely successful with its bold and simple style. The Echo peaked at a circulation of 200,000 in 1870.

In comparison, an eighteenth-century London newspaper was considered a great success if it sold 10,000 copies a week (most influential papers then were weeklies) and 2,000 weekly was a reasonable sale. Thus an enormous expansion had taken place, one that matched the vitality of an imperial capital, swollen by immigration and increasingly influential as an opinion-setter within the country, not least because of the communications revolution produced by the railway and better roads. The development of the railways allowed London newspapers to increase their dominance of the national newspaper scene. Thanks to them these papers could arrive on provincial doorsteps within hours of publication.

The public among whom literacy rates were rising sought cheap, entertaining reading matter. As in the previous century, this was only partly provided by the expanding press. A literature of chapbooks and almanacs had then been more popular than newspapers, and in the Victorian age much of the press did not provide the lurid tales that were sought by many. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Press: Jeremy Black Charts Its Growth in Victorian Britain. (New Agendas)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.