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
Type Weekly (1842–1971)
Monthly (1971–1989)
Bi-monthly (1989–1994)
Twice-yearly (1994–2003)
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) Illustrated London News Group
Founded 1842
Political alignment Conservative
Ceased publication 2003
Headquarters London, England

The Illustrated London News was the world's first illustrated weekly news magazine; the first issue appeared on Saturday 14 May 1842. It was published weekly until 1971 and then increasingly less frequently until publication ceased in 2003.


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

Printer and newsagent Herbert Ingram moved from Nottingham to London in early 1842. Inspired by how the Weekly Chronicle always sold more copies when it featured an illustration, he had the idea of publishing a weekly newspaper that would contain pictures in every edition. Ingram's initial idea was that it would concentrate on crime reporting, as per the later Illustrated Police News, but his collaborator, engraver Henry Vizetelly, convinced him that a newspaper covering more general news would enjoy greater success.[1]

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 The Illustrated London News appeared on Saturday 14 May 1842. Its 16 pages and 32 wood engravings covered topics such as the war in Afghanistan, a train crash in France, a survey of the candidates for the US presidential election, extensive crime reports, an account of a fancy dress ball at Buckingham Palace, theatre and book reviews, and a list of births, marriages and deaths. The newspaper also carried three pages of advertisements for items such as a taxidermy manual, Madame Bernard's treatment for baldness, and Smith's quinine tonic. Ingram hired 200 men to carry placards through the streets of London promoting the first edition of his new newspaper.[2]

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

Costing sixpence, the first edition sold 26,000 copies. Despite this initial success, sales of the second and subsequent editions were disappointing. However, Herbert 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.

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 which taxed newspapers), it sold 200,000 copies per week.

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. Competitors appeared but did not last long; Andrew Spottiswoode's Pictorial Times lost £20,000 before it was sold to Ingram by Henry Vizetelly, who had quit Ingram to found it.[3] Ingram closed it down.

On 30 October 1875, The Illustrated London News devoted its front-page and five other pages to an article about a reunion of the survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade to celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the Charge. The reunion was organised by a committee chaired by Edward Richard Woodham whose recollections of the charge and those of several others at the dinner were recorded in the article.

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.

From about 1890 onward The Illustrated London News made increasing use of photographs. 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,[4] although artists might still be used to illustrate in pictorial form topics such as budgetry expenditure or the layout of coal mines.[5]

The Illustrated London News was published weekly until 1971 when it became a monthly, and then bimonthly from 1989 until 1994. From 1994 until production ceased in 2003 it was published just twice a year.[6] A re-launch was announced at the end of 2003, backed by American entrepreneur James Sherwood, president of Sea Containers, but it was not successful.[7][8]

Back issues of The Illustrated London News are available to view online. TheGenealogist has a full collection online available from 1842 to 1879 and a number of issues from 1890.


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 and Louis Wain.

Writers and journalists included Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, George Augustus Sala, J. M. Barrie, Wilkie Collins, Rudyard Kipling, G. K. Chesterton, Joseph Conrad, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Charles Petrie, Agatha Christie,[9] Arthur Bryant and Tim Beaumont (who wrote about food).[10]

Chief Editors[edit]

1842-1848: Frederick William Naylor Bayley[11] (assistant: John Timbs[12])
1848-1859: Charles Mackay[11]
1860-1862: William J. Stewart[11]
1863-1890: John Lash Latey[11]
1891-1900: Clement King Shorter[11]
1900-1963: Sir Bruce Ingram[11]
1963-1965: Hugh Ingram[13]
1965-1970: Timothy Green[13]
1967-1970: John Kisch[13]
1970-1994: James Bishop[13]
1995-close: Mark Palmer[13]

Note: sources are contradictory in some cases. An alternative listing for the period 1842-1859 is 1842 – 1846: F.W.N. Bayley; 1846 – 1852: John Timbs; 1852 – 1859: Charles Mackay[13][14]


The archive of the Illustrated London News is owned by Illustrated London News (ILN) Limited.[15]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Hibbert 1975, p. 11
  2. ^ Hibbert 1975, pp. 11–13
  3. ^ 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. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  4. ^ The "death of King George V." special issue from January 25, 1936
  5. ^ The Illustrated London News – Marching to War 1933–1939, ISBN 1-85170-265-2
  6. ^ 5 Things To Know about The ILN Historical Archive, Cengage Learning, retrieved 12 July 2011 
  7. ^ Judge, Elizabeth (2003-12-05). "Soft relaunch for The Illustrated London News". The Times. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  8. ^ "New look Illustrated London News". Press Gazette. 2003-11-19. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  9. ^ ILN Picture Library
  10. ^ Roth, Andrew (11 April 2008). "Obituary: Lord Beaumont of Whitley". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 June 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Graham Law (2001), Victorian Fiction Research Guide 29, The University of Queensland
  12. ^ Peter Biddlecombe, "As much of life that the world can show"
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Magazine Data Page 202". Magazine Issues. Galactic Central Publications. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  14. ^ See also Illustrated London News, 13 May 1967
  15. ^ Kiss, Jemima (15 April 2010). "Illustrated London News archive goes online". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 


External links[edit]