Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper

Last updated

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
Governor Milton.jpg
USS Governor Milton by Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
CategoriesLiterary and news
Publisher Frank Leslie
First issue1855
Final issue1922
CountryUnited States

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, later renamed Leslie's Weekly, was an American illustrated literary and news magazine founded in 1855 and published until 1922. It was one of several magazines started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie.


Throughout its existence, the weekly provided illustrations and reports—first with wood engravings and daguerreotypes, later with more advanced forms of photography—of wars from John Brown's raid at Harpers Ferry and the Civil War until the Spanish–American War and the First World War.

Surviving issues today are highly prized as collectors' items for vividly depicting American life during the seven decades of its existence. Many distinguished writers were featured in its pages.



Frank Leslie was the pen name of Henry Carter (18211880), the son of a well-to-do English glovemaker. [1] Carter had taken up the art of wood engraving over his father's objection and emigrated to New York City to make his own way in the world, arriving in 1848. [1] Carter—who adopted the Frank Leslie name immediately upon his arrival—was unable to find a position as an illustrator with an established newspaper in the city and was forced to open his own business, a small engraving shop on Broadway. [2]

One of Leslie's early clients was promoter P. T. Barnum, who commissioned Leslie to produce a posh illustrated concert program for singer Jenny Lind in 1849. [3] Additional work was done for Barnum for another Lind tour in 1850 and 1851. [3] When Barnum decided to launch a publication called The Illustrated News in 1853, he turned to Leslie, hiring him as chief engraver for the short-lived publication, which failed within its first year of existence. [3]

Out of a job once more, Leslie decided to begin publishing on his own, launching two new periodicals in 1854—Frank Leslie's Ladies' Gazette of Fashion, a fashion-oriented newspaper, and Frank Leslie's Journal of Romance, an illustrated fiction magazine. [3] Both of these publications proved to be financially lucrative, and in 1855, Leslie added a third publication to his stable, an illustrated news weekly called Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. [3]

Early years

Leslie's Civil War sketch of the Battle of Honey Springs was published August 29, 1863. Union cavalry charge at Honey Springs, 1863.jpg
Leslie's Civil War sketch of the Battle of Honey Springs was published August 29, 1863.

The first years of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper were difficult, with the nation undergoing a business crisis in 1857. [3] The drama of the massive American Civil War in 1861, though, ensured the success of Leslie's Newspaper, as tens of thousands of readers turned to Leslie's and the upstart Harper's Weekly for their sometimes lurid illustrations of the bloody conflict. [3] A Leslie's freelancer, James R. O'Neill, is believed to have been the only Civil War correspondent killed in action in the Civil War. [4] [5]

No daily newspaper in America consistently carried illustrations until the launch of the New York Daily Graphic in 1873, by which time Leslie's Newspaper was a massive and prosperous concern, employing more than 300 people, including 70 illustrators, as part of a publishing empire which by now spanned seven publications. [3]

Production process

Veiled Prophet Parade, 1878, St. Louis, Missouri. Image by Edward Jump from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, October 1878 Veiled Prophet Parade.jpg
Veiled Prophet Parade, 1878, St. Louis, Missouri. Image by Edward Jump from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, October 1878

Leslie's Newspaper averaged 16 pages and was frequently accompanied by supplements or expanded into special thematic editions. [6] Content strove to be timely, focusing on the newsworthy events of the previous week, often within days of its occurrence, a novelty for the era. [6] Art was produced by teams, with initial sketches selected by an editor and turned over to an illustrator, who produced an outline drawing. [6] The outline was then applied to a block consisting of multiple layers of Turkish boxwood and additional detail added by specialized artists. [6]

The large block of wood was then separated into its constituent pieces and turned over to the engraving department, which meticulously carved out the white sections, leaving the black illustration in relief. [6] The sections of the wood block were then rejoined and sent to the composing room, where the illustration was converted to part of an electrotyped copper plate for printing. [6]

Years after Frank Leslie's death

After Leslie's death in 1880, the magazine was continued by his widow, women's suffrage campaigner Miriam Florence Leslie. The name, by then a well-established trademark, remained also after 1902, when it no longer had a connection with the Leslie family. The magazine was merged into Judge (which was under the same ownership) effective with the June 24, 1922 issue, [7] having switched to a monthly publication in February, 1921, shortly after its parent company was placed into receivership. [8]

It often took a strongly patriotic stance and frequently featured cover pictures of soldiers and heroic battle stories. It also gave extensive coverage to less martial events such as the Klondike gold rush of 1897, covered by San Francisco journalist John Bonner.

Among the writers publishing their stories in the weekly were Louisa May Alcott, H. Irving Hancock, Helen R. Martin, Eleanor Franklin Egan, and Ellis Parker Butler. Several notable illustrators worked for the publication, including Albert Berghaus and Norman Rockwell, who created covers for the magazine in its latter years, Emmett Watson, and Fernando Miranda y Casellas. James Montgomery Flagg's iconic depiction of Uncle Sam first appeared publicly on the cover of the July 6, 1916, issue, with the caption "What Are You Doing for Preparedness?", before becoming a famed recruiting poster on American entry into World War I. [9] [10]

By 1897, the publication's circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies. [11]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Illustrator</span> Artist enhancing writing with images

An illustrator is an artist who specializes in enhancing writing or elucidating concepts by providing a visual representation that corresponds to the content of the associated text or idea. The illustration may be intended to clarify complicated concepts or objects that are difficult to describe textually, which is the reason illustrations are often found in children's books.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John R. Neill</span> Childrens book illustrator (1877–1943)

John Rea Neill was a magazine and children's book illustrator primarily known for illustrating more than forty stories set in the Land of Oz, including L. Frank Baum's, Ruth Plumly Thompson's, and three of his own. His pen-and-ink drawings have become identified almost exclusively with the Oz series. He did a great deal of magazine and newspaper illustration work which is not as well known today.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank Leslie</span> English-American engraver, illustrator, and publisher

Frank Leslie was an English-born American engraver, illustrator, and publisher of family periodicals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wood engraving</span> Printmaking technique

Wood engraving is a printmaking technique, in which an artist works an image into a block of wood. Functionally a variety of woodcut, it uses relief printing, where the artist applies ink to the face of the block and prints using relatively low pressure. By contrast, ordinary engraving, like etching, uses a metal plate for the matrix, and is printed by the intaglio method, where the ink fills the valleys, the removed areas. As a result, the blocks for wood engravings deteriorate less quickly than the copper plates of engravings, and have a distinctive white-on-black character.

<i>The Illustrated London News</i> British illustrated news magazine (1842–1903)

The Illustrated London News, founded by Herbert Ingram and first published on Saturday 14 May 1842, was the world's first illustrated weekly news magazine. The magazine was published weekly for most of its existence, switched to a less frequent publication schedule in 1971, and eventually ceased publication in 2003. The company continues today as Illustrated London News Ltd, a publishing, content, and digital agency in London, which holds the publication and business archives of the magazine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Benson John Lossing</span> American journalist

Benson John Lossing was an American historian, known best for his illustrated books on the American Revolution and American Civil War and features in Harper's Magazine. He was a charter trustee of Vassar College.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">J. C. Leyendecker</span> German-American illustrator

Joseph Christian Leyendecker was one of the most prominent and financially successful freelance commercial artists in the U.S. He was active between 1895 and 1951 producing drawings and paintings for hundreds of posters, books, advertisements, and magazine covers and stories. He is best known for his 80 covers for Collier's Weekly, 322 covers for The Saturday Evening Post, and advertising illustrations for B. Kuppenheimer men's clothing and Arrow brand shirts and detachable collars. He was one of the few known gay artists working in the early-twentieth century U.S.

<i>The Graphic</i> British weekly illustrated newspaper

The Graphic was a British weekly illustrated newspaper, first published on 4 December 1869 by William Luson Thomas's company Illustrated Newspapers Ltd. Thomas's brother Lewis Samuel Thomas was a co-founder. The premature death of the latter in 1872 "as one of the founders of this newspaper, [and who] took an active interest in its management" left a marked gap in the early history of the publication. It was set up as a rival to the popular Illustrated London News.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Franklin Booth</span>

Franklin Booth was an American artist known for his detailed pen-and-ink illustrations. He had a unique illustration style based upon his early recreation of wood engraving illustrations with pen and ink. His skill as a draftsman and style made him a popular magazine illustrator in the early 20th-century. He was one of the first modern ex libris designers in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alfred Waud</span> American artist and illustrator

Alfred Rudolph Waud was an American artist and illustrator, born and raised in London, England. He is most notable for the sketches he made as an artist correspondent during the American Civil War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frederick Stuart Church</span> American artist

Frederick Stuart Church (1842–1924) was an American artist, working mainly as an illustrator and especially known for his depiction of animals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Waud</span> English architect and illustrator (1832–1878)

William Waud (wɔ:d) was an English-born architect and illustrator, notable for the sketches he made as an artist correspondent during the American Civil War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Albert Berghaus</span> American illustrator

Albert Berghaus was an important American illustrator from the period immediately prior to the Civil War up to about the 1880s/1890s. He worked for Frank Leslie's Weekly, also known as Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, producing sketches and wood engravings of important events in contemporary American history. After the Civil War, he traveled in the west, and in the late 1870s he collaborated with Frederic Remington to illustrate "Tenting on the Plains," an account, possibly a magazine article, by Mrs. George Custer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frederick Gleason</span>

Frederick Gleason was a publisher in Boston, Massachusetts, in the mid-nineteenth century. He is best known for establishing the popular illustrated weekly Gleason's Pictorial, at the time an innovation in American publishing. He has been called "the father of illustrated journalism."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thure de Thulstrup</span> Swedish-born American illustrator

Thure de Thulstrup, born Bror Thure Thulstrup in Sweden, was a leading American illustrator with contributions for numerous magazines, including three decades of work for Harper's Weekly. Thulstrup primarily illustrated historical military scenes.

Henry (Harry) Alexander Ogden, also known as H. A. Ogden, (1856–1936) was an American illustrator particularly of historical and military subjects.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Croome</span> American illustrator and wood engraver

William Croome (1790–1860) was an American illustrator and wood engraver in the 19th century. He trained with Abel Bowen in Boston, Massachusetts. Croome's work appeared in the American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge (1830s), Lady's Annual (1830s), Crockett Almanac (ca.1840s), and in numerous children's books.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James R. O'Neill</span>

James R. O'Neill was a war artist and correspondent for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper during the American Civil War. He covered the Battle of Honey Springs in July 1863, and his sketch of the action was published to a nationwide audience. Less than three months later, however, O'Neill was killed in the Battle of Baxter Springs. He is believed to be the only newsman to be killed in action during the American Civil War.

Shurey's Illustrated was a one penny weekly illustrated newspaper launched during the Second Anglo-Boer War. While other illustrated papers launched at the time, such as The Illustrated War News, focused on the war, Shurey's Illustrated also covered other topics, including sports and social events. It was one of a stable of one-penny weekly illustrated papers managed by Charles and Henry Shurey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Georgina A. Davis</span> American artist (c. 1852–1901)

Georgina A. Davis was an American illustrator, painter, and engraver. She was a staff artist for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, which featured hundreds of her illustrations. At the time, she was the only female staff artist working for a major American newspaper. Little is known of Davis' life despite the prominence of her work.


  1. 1 2 Joshua Brown, "The Great Uprising and Pictorial Order in Gilded Age America", in David O. Stowell (ed.), The Great Strikes of 1877. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2008; p. 19.
  2. Brown, The Great Uprising and Pictorial Order in Gilded Age America, pp. 19-20.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Joshua Brown, The Great Uprising and Pictorial Order in Gilded Age America, p. 20.
  4. Steele, Phillip W.; Cottrell, Steve (1993). Civil War in the Ozarks. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company. pp. 74–83. ISBN   0-88289-988-0.
  5. "O'Neill and the Band: The Baxter Springs Massacre Part One". Civil War Wisconsin. Wisconsin Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. March 30, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Brown, The Great Uprising and Pictorial Order in Gilded Age America, p. 21.
  7. Nelson, Randy F. The Almanac of American Letters. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 66. ISBN   0-86576-008-X
  8. "Leslie's To Be Monthly" (PDF). The New York Times. Vol. LXX, no. 23, 044. February 26, 1921. p. 6. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  9. "The Great War: Part 1 - Transcript". American Experience. PBS. July 3, 2018. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  10. "What are YOU doing for preparedness?". Library of Congress: Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Library of Congress. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  11. N. W. Ayer & Son, The American Newspaper Annual (New York, 1897) 1896: Journals of the Campaign).

Further reading