Britain has some of the most interesting newspapers in the world. However, the newspapers were not always so much fun. Here's a brief history of British newspapers.
In the early 17th century, newspapers were very different than the current versions. News and information were passed along via pamphlets, news sheets or posters. The first true newspaper published in Britain was the Oxford Gazette, which was published in 1665.
By the 18th century, many more newspapers were being published - 24 papers in all by the 1720s. The very first daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, was first published in London on March 11, 1702 by Edward Mallet. At the time, it ran two columns that published news from abroad. The paper was eventually sold to Samuel Buckley and then in 1735, it merged with another paper. However, there is some controversy as to which paper was actually the first one to be published daily. The Norwich Post has always proclaimed that it was the first daily paper to be published in Britain. In 1772, Hampshire's oldest paper, Hampshire Chronicle, began circulating. This century also saw the rise of the Sunday paper. Before, papers were published only through Saturday; The Observer began publishing in 1791.
The next century saw a lot of growth for the British newspaper industry. As taxes on paper were lowered, it became cheaper for printers to publish them every day which was a huge change for the industry. They also abandoned the pamphlet format in favor of larger issues and advertisements began to show up.
In London, 52 separate papers were running and the surrounding areas had around 100 other publications. It was also around this time that people's interest in the news began to grow as the world around them seemed to expand. Naturally, the papers that catered to their needs flourished. 1855 was very important for newspapers because the Stamp Act was repealed in both Britain and the United States, making it faster and cheaper for people to print papers.
The Daily Universal Register, later known as The Times, began publishing in 1855. The paper's name would later be changed to The Times in 1788. The Times was the biggest paper for a brief period but as others cropped up, the field became more competitive.
In 1821, the Manchester Guardian was founded by a group of businessman. This paper took the place of a more radical paper that had been founded to protest the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester. While it was extremely popular at the time, the paper folded when interest in the massacre waned. However, many of its non-conformist readers then shifted their patronage to the Manchester Guardian. It marked a shift where papers started to become more partisan.
Another flash in the pan was the hugely popular Northern Star which capitalized on the Chartist reformation effort. When the movement died, the paper folded in 1852. The first truly cheap newspaper to establish itself around this time was the Daily Telegraph and Courier in 1885; it's now called the Daily Telegraph. 1896 saw the rise of another popular paper, The Daily Mail.
All in all, the 19th century was the “golden age” of newspapers in Britain when many papers found their footholds and soon buying a newspaper was as much a part of someone's morning as their trip to work.
The 20th century has been a big era for the British newspaper. Many, many new papers have emerged all over the country. Most cities have their own privately-published papers that circulate weekly, and there are several major publications that are published daily. For instance, one of Britain's most popular papers is The Guardian, which used to be the Manchester Guardian. The Times is also still going strong. There are even newspapers that combine serious news with large sections devoted to celebrities like The Daily Mail, which is still a popular paper. The format of some papers also changed. In 1914, The Times published its first half-tone photo. In 1915, the Daily Mail ran its fist comic strip, Teddy Tail and in 1924, the Sunday Express published its first crossword puzzle.
Currently, like with the rest of the world, the newspaper industry is struggling as more people turn away from paper and ink cartridges to join the Internet revolution. Still, newspapers provide an important service for the world.