Through the end of February, the Library has trial access to UKPress Online, a collection of historic and current newspapers. The following information was provided by the vendor.
The Daily Express (Updated daily) was launched in 1900 by Arthur Pearson as a mid-market broadsheet. The ha’penny Express was the first to devote its front page to news (rather than advertisements): “This paper is produced with the intention of supplying its readers with news. That is the excuse for its existence.” Advance orders for Issue One were a million and a half copies– “absolute impossibility to supply… we are doing our best.”
The first issue was over-subscribed. That edition began a series of articles from an Expressman in “Hayti”; another was despatched to Patagonia to search for a “giant ground sloth” – in vain, although his articles gripped readers for weeks. This policy of having “our man on the spot” became a hallmark of the Express.
When Pearson went blind, during the Great War, he sold the Express to Conservative MP Max Aitken, soon to be Lord Beaverbrook, the first “Fleet Street baron” and an evangelist of the free press – “a flaming sword which will cut through any political armour”; the paper’s symbol became The Crusader. Beaverbrook crusaded, both politically and editorially: despite personal advice to Edward VIII to give up Wallis Simpson, the Express notably chronicled every detail of their affair. And not always successfully: the Express’s vehemence against Attlee was credited with losing the 1945 election for Churchill!
By 1936, the Express had the world’s largest circulation of more than two million, rising to four million in the 1940s, under the seminal editorship of Arthur Christansen. It was one of the first newspapers to carry gossip, sport and women’s articles; it was the first to carry a crossword. With its commercial success and vast editorial staff around the world, the Express dominated Fleet Street; as a bemused Royal wrote, “I was met by a gaggle of reporters from the Daily Express and a gentleman from the Glasgow Herald”.
Express contributors run from the exiled Leon Trotsky to Evelyn Waugh (who lampooned Beaverbrook as Lord Copper – “up to a point”), William Hickey (Tom Driberg) and the cartoonist Giles.
The Express became a (black-top) tabloid in 1978. The Daily Star was a late-comer, as was the Star on Sunday, occupying the red-top tabloid slot in competition to the Sun and Mirror.
The Daily Star (Updated daily) was launched in 1978 (and is available from 2000) by Express Newspapers as a tabloid for the north of England, competing against The Sun’s Page 3 girls with its own topless Star Birds. In 1987, it lost a £500,000 libel action after accusing Tory deputy chairman Jeffrey Archer of paying hush money to a prostitute – a political scandal in those pre-Trump days…. Twelve years later, the now-Lord Archer admitted he had lied and, in 2002, he had to repay the cash with costs and interest – £1.5million. The same year, the Star launched a Sunday sister (all available – updated weekly).
Church Times (updated weekly): The World’s leading Anglican newspaper. The first 26 years, from the paper’s very first issue in 1863 to 1889, saw fierce ‘battles’ over Ritualism: one of the reasons why the Church Times was established was to defend the High Church against “Broad and Low Bigots”. The paper also warned against the digging of a Channel Tunnel, criticised President Lincoln for going to the theatre (where he was assassinated), and had a stern word for one of its advertisers: “It would be curious to learn how such a cad came to be a priest.” All of the archive is now available: cataloguing almost every page from 1863 to the present.
Daily Worker & Morning Star (updated daily): The Communist & Socialist Press providing a different angle on news – through WW2 and the new millennium.
Action, Fascist Week and Blackshirt the Fascist titles published by Oswald Mosley before and during WW2 (until banned by Churchill’s government). A view from the far Right as the World prepared for war.
The Watchman (1835-1884): primarily a Wesleyan, (and the first) Methodist newspaper, The Watchman has an impressive breadth and depth of reporting of matters of import in 19th Century Great Britain and abroad. Details of movements of clergy are useful for those trying to track their family history; parliamentary election results are published in detail; discussions of the Second Anglo-Afghan war (1878-80) may give some perspective to modern campaigns.
World War One & World War Two A key package of newspaper titles giving a broad political and geographical range of views from national and regional publishers’ newspapers: Includes the issues of all of the above titles between 1914-1918 and 1933-1945. Providing the view from ‘the North’ the WW2 editions of the Yorkshire Post cover from January 1933 to April 1946.
The South Eastern Gazette (1852-1912), formerly the Maidstone Gazette, was a major regional title for the south-east of England. Available free in the UK thanks to the ‘Your Heritage Lottery Fund’ and the Kent Messenger, the title covers Kent and much of the South-East of England from East Hampshire through Surrey and Sussex to South Essex and parts of London.”