The News of the World and the British Press, 1843–2011

Part of the series Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media pp 11-26

The Foundation and Early Years of the News of the World: ‘Capacious Double Sheets’

  • James Mussell


The News of the World (NOTW) was established in 1843 and quickly found a readership. By 1846, when Charles Mitchell first published his Newspaper Press Directory, the NOTW was claiming a weekly circulation of over 35,000. In this chapter, I consider how the NOTW carved out such a remarkable place for itself in the mid-nineteenth-century market, becoming one of the largest-selling newspapers of all time. The Sunday newspaper was fairly well established, the first — E. Johnson’s British Gazette and Sunday Monitor — had appeared in 1779, but it was the papers that emerged in the 1840s that demonstrated the large potential audience for cheap weekly newspapers. These papers, led by Edward Lloyd’s Lloyd’s Illustrated Newspaper (later Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper, then Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper 1842–1931), took advantage of the reduction of the newspaper stamp duty in 1836 to keep their prices as low as possible while orienting their contents towards the interests of this emerging market. Their success in identifying and cultivating a readership amongst the working- and lower-middle classes meant that they reached more readers than newspapers ever had before. It is in this context, as a pioneering publication in the vanguard of a new and successful newspaper genre, that we should consider the NOTW.