The Illustrated London News

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The Illustrated London News
Illustrated London News - front page - first edition.jpg
First page of the first edition
TypeWeekly (1842–1971)
Monthly (1971–89)
Quarterly (1989–94)
Twice-yearly (1994–2003)
FormatBroadsheet News Magazine
Owner(s)Illustrated London News Group
Political alignmentConservative
Ceased publication2003
HeadquartersLondon, England

The Illustrated London News appeared first on Saturday 14 May 1842, as the world's first illustrated weekly news magazine. [1] Founded by Herbert Ingram, it appeared weekly until 1971, then less frequently thereafter, and 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.

A magazine is a publication, usually a periodical publication, which is printed or electronically published. Magazines are generally published on a regular schedule and contain a variety of content. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by prepaid subscriptions, or a combination of the three.

Herbert Ingram politician from England

Herbert Ingram was a British journalist and politician. He is considered the father of pictorial journalism through his founding of The Illustrated London News, the first illustrated magazine. He was a Liberal politician who favoured social reform and represented Boston for four years until his early death in a shipping accident.



1842–60: Herbert Ingram

Front cover of 1 October 1892 issue, showing a scene from Sydney Grundy and Arthur Sullivan's Haddon Hall created by M. Browne and Herbert Railton M. Browne - Herbert Railton - Sydney Grundy - Arthur Sullivan - Haddon Hall.jpg
Front cover of 1 October 1892 issue, showing a scene from Sydney Grundy and Arthur Sullivan's Haddon Hall created by M. Browne and Herbert Railton

The Illustrated London News founder Herbert Ingram was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, in 1811, and opened a printing, newsagent and bookselling business in Nottingham around 1834 in partnership with his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Cooke. [2] As a newsagent, Ingram was struck by the reliable increase in newspaper sales when they featured pictures and shocking stories. Ingram began to plan a weekly newspaper that would contain pictures in every edition. [3]

Nottingham City and unitary authority area in England

Nottingham is a city and unitary authority area in Nottinghamshire, England, 128 miles (206 km) north of London, 45 miles (72 km) northeast of Birmingham and 56 miles (90 km) southeast of Manchester, in the East Midlands.

Ingram rented an office, recruited artists and reporters, and employed as his editor Frederick William Naylor Bayley (1808–1853), formerly editor of the National Omnibus. The first issue of The Illustrated London News appeared on Saturday, 14 May 1842, timed to report on the young Queen Victoria's first masquerade ball. [4] Its 16 pages and 32 wood engravings covered topics such as the war in Afghanistan, the Versailles rail accident, a survey of the candidates for the US presidential election, extensive crime reports, theatre and book reviews, and a list of births, marriages and deaths. Ingram hired 200 men to carry placards through the streets of London promoting the first edition of his new newspaper. [5]

Queen Victoria British monarch who reigned 1837–1901

Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India.

Wood engraving technique in printmaking and letterpress printing

Wood engraving is a printmaking and letterpress printing technique, in which an artist works an image or matrix of images 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, wood engravings deteriorate less quickly than copper-plate engravings, and have a distinctive white-on-black character.

First Anglo-Afghan War one of the first major conflicts during the Great Game

The First Anglo-Afghan War was fought between the British East India Company and the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1839 to 1842. Initially, the British successfully intervened in a succession dispute between emir Dost Mohammad (Barakzai) and former emir Shah Shujah (Durrani), whom they installed upon conquering Kabul in August 1839. The main British Indian and Sikh force occupying Kabul along with their camp followers, having endured harsh winters as well, was almost completely annihilated while retreating in January 1842. The British then sent an Army of Retribution to Kabul to avenge their defeat, and having demolished parts of the capital and recovered prisoners they left Afghanistan altogether by the end of the year. Dost Mohamed returned from exile in India to resume his rule.

Jumbo's Journey to the Docks (The Illustrated London News, 1 April 1882) Jumbo's Journey to the Docks.jpg
Jumbo's Journey to the Docks (The Illustrated London News, 1 April 1882)

Costing sixpence, the first issue sold 26,000 copies. Despite this initial success, sales of the second and subsequent editions were disappointing. However, Ingram was determined to make his newspaper a success, and sent every clergyman in the country a copy of the edition which contained illustrations of the installation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and by this means secured a great many new subscribers.

Sixpence (British coin)

The sixpence, sometimes known as a tanner or sixpenny bit, is a coin that was worth one-fortieth of a pound sterling, or six pence. It was first minted in the reign of Edward VI and circulated until 1980. Following decimalisation in 1971 it had a value of ​2 12 new pence. The coin was made from silver from its introduction in 1551 to 1947, and thereafter in cupronickel.

Archbishop of Canterbury senior bishop of the Church of England

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.

Its circulation soon increased to 40,000 and by the end of its first year was 60,000. In 1851, after the newspaper published Joseph Paxton's designs for the Crystal Palace before even Prince Albert had seen them, the circulation rose to 130,000. In 1852, when it produced a special edition covering the funeral of the Duke of Wellington, sales increased to 150,000; and in 1855, mainly due to the newspaper reproducing some of Roger Fenton's pioneering photographs of the Crimean War (and also due to the abolition of the Stamp Act that taxed newspapers), it sold 200,000 copies per week. [5]

Joseph Paxton English gardener, architect and Member of Parliament

Sir Joseph Paxton was an English gardener, architect and Member of Parliament, best known for designing the Crystal Palace, and for cultivating the Cavendish banana, the most consumed banana in the Western world.

The Crystal Palace Former building originally in Hyde Park, London, 1854 relocated to Bromley, South London

The Crystal Palace was a cast-iron and plate-glass structure originally built in Hyde Park, London, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. The exhibition took place from 1 May until 15 October 1851, and more than 14,000 exhibitors from around the world gathered in its 990,000 square feet (92,000 m2) exhibition space to display examples of technology developed in the Industrial Revolution. Designed by Joseph Paxton, the Great Exhibition building was 1,851 feet (564 m) long, with an interior height of 128 feet (39 m). It was three times the size of St Paul's Cathedral.

Albert, Prince Consort Husband of Queen Victoria

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was the husband of Queen Victoria.

Competitors soon began to appear: Lloyd’s Illustrated Paper was founded later that year, while Reynold's Newspaper opened in 1850; both were successful Victorian publications, albeit less successful than The Illustrated London News. [6] Andrew Spottiswoode's Pictorial Times lost £20,000 before it was sold to Ingram by Henry Vizetelly, who had left the ILN to found it. [7] Ingram folded it into another purchase, The Lady's Newspaper, which became The Lady's Newspaper and Pictorial Times. Vizetelly was also behind a later competitor, Illustrated Times in 1855, which was similarly bought out by Ingram in 1859.[ citation needed ]

Ingram's other early collaborators left the business in the 1850s. Nathanial Cooke, his business partner and brother-in-law, found himself in a subordinate role in the business and parted on bad terms around 1854. 1858 saw the departure of William Little, who, in addition to providing a loan of £10,000, was printer and publisher of the paper for 15 years. Little's relationship with Ingram deteriorated over Ingram's harassment of their mutual sister-in-law. [2]

Herbert Ingram died on 8 September 1860 in a paddle-steamer accident on Lake Michigan, and he was succeeded as proprietor by his youngest son, William, who in turn was succeeded by his son, Sir Bruce Ingram (1877–1963) in 1900, who remained as editor until his death.

1860–1900: William and Charles Ingram

By 1863, The Illustrated London News was selling more than 300,000 copies every week, enormous figures in comparison to other British newspapers of the time. The death of Herbert and his eldest son left the company without a director and manager. Control passed to Ingram's widow Ann, and his friend Sir Edward William Watkin, who managed the business for twelve years. Once Ingram's two younger sons, William and Charles, were old enough, they took over as managing directors, although it was William who took the lead. [2]

It was also a period of expansion and increased competition for the ILN. As reading habits and the illustrated news market changed, the ILN bought or established a number of new publications, evolving from a single newspaper to a larger-scale publishing business. As with Herbert Ingram's purchases in the 1850s, this expansion was also an effective way of managing competition: dominating markets and buying out competing ventures. As too with the acquisitions of the 1850s, several similar illustrated publications were established in this period by former employees of The Illustrated London News.

Serious competition for the ILN appeared in 1869, with the establishment of The Graphic , a weekly illustrated paper founded by W. L. Thomas. Thomas was a former wood engraver for The Illustrated London News, and brought his expertise in illustrated publishing to his new magazine. The Graphic was highly popular, particularly for its coverage of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, and was well regarded among artists: Vincent van Gogh was a particular admirer. [8]

William Ingram became chief proprietor of The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (est. 1874), and The Lady's Pictorial, which may have been a later title of The Lady's Newspaper and Pictorial Times. [4] The Penny Illustrated Paper , aimed at a working-class readership, was established by the news company shortly after Ingram's death in 1861. This was in response to the abolition of stamp and paper taxes, which made cheaper publications possible. The Penny Illustrated Paper ran until 1913. [9]

In 1893, the ILN established The Sketch , a sister publication which covered lighter news and society events with the same focus on illustration. From this point the name of the company changed to the Illustrated London News and Sketch Ltd.

In 1899, ILN editor Clement Shorter left the paper to found his own publication, The Sphere , which published its first issue on 27 January 1900. Ingram and The Illustrated London News responded by establishing a competing magazine, The Spear, which appeared two days before The Sphere on 25 January 1900. The name was deliberately chosen to confuse and siphon off readers, and advertisements for The Sphere emphasised the difference between the magazines: “S-P-H-E-R-E… you may be offered something else you don’t want” [10] [11] While editor of the ILN, Clement Shorter had been instrumental in the establishment and publication of The Sketch. In 1903, he established The Tatler as a similar sister publication for The Sphere, with a similar focus on illustrated culture and society news. With the departure of Shorter, the role of editor of the ILN was taken over by Bruce Ingram, the 23-year-old grandson of the paper's founder.

1900–63: Bruce Ingram

Cover of 20 February 1915 issue German U-boat submarine engraving 1915.jpg
Cover of 20 February 1915 issue

Bruce Ingram was editor of The Illustrated London News and (from 1905) The Sketch, and ran the company for the next 63 years, presiding over some significant changes in the newspaper and the publishing business as a whole.

Photographic and printing techniques were advancing in the later years of the 19th century, and The Illustrated London News began to introduce photos as well as artwork into its depictions of weekly events. From about 1890 The Illustrated London News made increasing use of photography. The tradition of graphic illustrations continued however until the end of World War I. Often rough sketches of distant events with handwritten explanations were supplied by observers and then worked on by artists in London to produce polished end-products for publication. This was particularly the case where popular subjects such as colonial or foreign military campaigns did not lend themselves to clear illustration using the limited camera technology of the period. By the 1920s and 1930s, the pictures which dominated each issue of the magazine were almost exclusively photographic, [12] although artists might still be used to illustrate in pictorial form topics such as budgetry expenditure or the layout of coal mines. [13]

In 1928, a major business merger saw Illustrated London News move to new headquarters at Inveresk House, 1 Aldwych, (also known as 364 Strand), London. Here the Illustrated London News and the Sketch were united with six of their former competitors under the parent company, Illustrated News Ltd. As eight of the largest titles in illustrated news, these were newly dubbed the 'Great Eight' publications. The Illustrated London News, the flagship publication, was supported by sister publications The Sketch, The Sphere, The Tatler, The Graphic, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News , The Bystander , and Eve . [14] With the exception of The Tatler, these publications remained as part of Illustrated News Ltd. until their closure at various times in the 20th century.

The centenary of The Illustrated London News in 1942 was muted due to wartime conditions, including restrictions on the use of paper. The occasion was marked in the paper with a set of specially commissioned colour photographs of the Royal Family, including the future Queen Elizabeth. [15] By the time of his death in 1963, Ingram was a major figure in the newspaper industry, and the longest-standing editor of his day.


In the post-war period, print publications were gradually displaced from their central position in reporting news events, and circulation began to fall for all the illustrated weeklies. Many of the Great Eight publications were closed down after the Second World War: The Sketch, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and The Sphere all ceased publication in these years.

In 1961, Illustrated Newspapers Ltd was bought by International Thomson, headed by Roy Thomson, the Canadian newspaper mogul. The Sphere ceased publication in 1964, while The Tatler was sold in 1968 (it was later to be revived and relaunched in 1977). With circulation figures continuing to fall, The Illustrated London News switched from weekly to monthly publication in 1971, with a new focus on in-depth reporting and selective coverage of world events. This strategy continued into the late 1980s, when the paper reduced its frequency to four issues a year.

In 1985, The Illustrated London News and the archives of the Great Eight publications were sold to Sea Containers, an international transport corporation headed by James Sherwood. Along with the Illustrated London News Group, Sea Containers operated the Orient Express and Great North-Eastern Railways, and a range of luxury hotels. As part of this activity, Illustrated London News Group launched a luxury travel and lifestyle magazine, Orient Express.

In 1994, publication of The Illustrated London News was reduced further to two issues a year, and the publishing activity of the Illustrated London News Group focused increasingly on the Orient Express magazine. After publishing its last Christmas number in 2001, The Illustrated London News was relaunched in 2003 under the editorship of Mark Palmer, which ran for one issue before finally ceasing publication for good.

The Illustrated London News Group underwent a management buy-out in 2007, and was re-established as Illustrated London News Ltd. From 2007, it has continued its activity as an independent content and creative agency. In 2007, the former Orient Express magazine was relaunched as Sphere, a luxury lifestyle and travel magazine. In addition to its independent publications, Illustrated London News Ltd now acts as a content agency for various other luxury and heritage organisations.

Illustrated London News Ltd also manages and curates the newspaper and business archive of The Illustrated London News and the Great Eight publications, publishing short books and magazines of historical content from the Great Eight publication archives. In 2010 the company digitised the entire back catalogue of The Illustrated London News, and in 2014 began digitalizing the remaining seven publications in the Great Eight. [16] To mark the centenary of the First World War, in July 2014 ILN Ltd launched, a free historical resource funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The entire run of the Great Eight publications between 1914 and 1918 are available on this site. [17]

The company operates at 46–48 East Smithfield Street.


Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar on the front page of The Illustrated London News during his last visit to Britain Nasser-ed-Din Shah's last visit to Britain - 3.jpg
Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar on the front page of The Illustrated London News during his last visit to Britain

The first generation of draughtsmen and engravers included Sir John Gilbert, Birket Foster, and George Cruikshank among the former, and W. J. Linton, Ebenezer Landells and George Thomas among the latter. Regular literary contributors included Douglas Jerrold, Richard Garnett and Shirley Brooks.

Illustrators, artists and photographers included Edward Duncan, Bruce Bairnsfather, H. M. Bateman, Edmund Blampied, Mabel Lucie Attwell, E. H. Shepherd, Kate Greenaway, W. Heath Robinson and his brother Charles Robinson, George E. Studdy, David Wright, Melton Prior, William Simpson, Frederic Villiers, H. C. Seppings-Wright, Frank Reynolds, Lawson Wood, C. E. Turner, R. Caton Woodville, A. Forestier, Fortunino Matania, Christina Broom, Louis Wain and J. Segrelles.

Writers and journalists included Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, George Augustus Sala, J. M. Barrie, Wilkie Collins, Rudyard Kipling, G. K. Chesterton, Joseph Conrad, Camilla Dufour Crosland, [18] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Charles Petrie, Agatha Christie, [19] Arthur Bryant and Tim Beaumont (who wrote about food). [20]

Chief editors

1842–1848: Frederick William Naylor Bayley [21] (assistant: John Timbs [22] )
1848–1859: Charles Mackay [21]
1860–1862: William J. Stewart [21]
1863–1890: John Lash Latey [21]
1891–1900: Clement King Shorter [21]
1900–1963: Sir Bruce Ingram [21]
1963–1965: Hugh Ingram [23]
1965–1970: Timothy Green [23]
1967–1970: John Kisch [23]
1970–1994: James Bishop [23]
1995–2003: Mark Palmer [23]

Note: sources are contradictory in some cases. An alternative listing for the period 1842–59 is 1842–46: F. W. N. Bayley; 1846–52: John Timbs; 1852–59: Charles Mackay [23] [24]


The archives of The Illustrated London News, The Sketch, The Sphere, The Tatler, The Bystander, The Graphic, The Illustrated War News, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, and Britannia and Eve are owned by Illustrated London News (ILN) Limited. [25] ILN Ltd also holds company records of the Illustrated London News, Illustrated Newspapers Ltd and the Illustrated London News Group.

In 2010, the entire back catalogue of The Illustrated London News was digitised, and is available online by subscription. [26] The entire run of The Illustrated London News between 1914 and 1919 is available for free online. [27] TheGenealogist has a full collection online available from 1842 to 1879 and a number of issues from 1890. [28] The original woodblocks of the first issue are held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. [29]

See also

Notes and references

  1. "The History of Magazines". Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Isabel Bailey, "Ingram, Herbert (1811–1860)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 17 September 2014]
  3. Hibbert 1975 , p. 11
  4. 1 2 James Bishop, "The Story of the ILN", Illustrated London News 150th anniversary issue, Vol. 280, No. 7106.
  5. 1 2 Hibbert 1975 , pp. 11–13
  6. "Ed King, British Library Newspapers Topic Guide". Archived from the original on 18 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  7. Williamson, C. N. (1890). "The Illustrated London News and Its Rivals – Lloyd's Illustrated London Newspaper, The Pictorial Times, and The Illustrated Times". Magazine of Art. II (Illustrated Journalism in England: Its Development): 334–40. Archived from the original on 7 August 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  8. Mark Bills, "Thomas, William Luson (1830–1900)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  9. Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld), 17 March 1900.
  10. Harrington, Peter (3 November 2000). "Pictorial Journalism and the Boer War: the London Illustrated Weeklies". In Gooch, John. The Boer War: Direction, Experience and Image. Military History and Policy. 7. Routledge. p. 231. ISBN   978-0714651019.
  11. "The Sydney Mail - Google News Archive Search".
  12. "The Death of King George V." special issue Archived 13 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine , from 25 January 1936.
  13. The Illustrated London News – Marching to War 1933–1939, ISBN   1-85170-265-2
  14. The Illustrated London News, issue 6, October 1928.
  15. The Illustrated London News centenary issue, 16 May 1942.
  16. "Illustrated London News". Archived from the original on 17 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  17. ILN. "About The Illustrated First World War - Illustrated London News". Archived from the original on 22 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  18. Blain, Virginia; Clements, Patricia; Grundy, Isobel, eds. (1990). The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present. London: B. T. Batsford. p. 251. ISBN   978-0713458480.
  19. ILN Picture Library Archived 23 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  20. Roth, Andrew (11 April 2008). "Obituary: Lord Beaumont of Whitley". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Graham Law (2001), Victorian Fiction Research Guide 29 Archived 7 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine , The University of Queensland.
  22. Peter Biddlecombe, "As much of life that the world can show". Archived 16 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  23. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Magazine Data Page 202". Magazine Issues. Galactic Central Publications. Archived from the original on 6 April 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  24. See also Illustrated London News, 13 May 1967.
  25. Kiss, Jemima (15 April 2010). "Illustrated London News archive goes online". The Guardian . Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  27. ILN. "Illustrated First World War, WW1 Facts, WW1 Soldiers & Women - Illustrated London News". Archived from the original on 20 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  28. "The Genealogist: Search Census, Births, Marriages, Deaths, Parish Records, Non-Conformist Records, Directories, Military Records, Wills & more!". Archived from the original on 25 January 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  29. "Wood block for the first number of 'The Illustrated London News'; Tailpiece, advertising 'The Illustrated London News' - - V&A Search the Collections". Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2018.


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