Some examples of the types of enquiry we receive at British Library Newspapers.
What is the earliest British newspaper?
It is rarely a straightforward matter to talk about the ‘first’ book, newspaper, or magazine published; normally, we talk about the earliest known. With newspapers, a further complication arises: who defines when a piece of reporting is or is not a newspaper, in the sense of the word as we use it today?
Here though are some of the earliest known, under various interpretations of the word ‘newspaper’:
- Around 1513, an undated news pamphlet giving an eye-witness account of the battle of Flodden was published, in England, by ‘Richarde Faques’:
Hereafter ensue the trewe encountre or .. Batayle lately don betwene Engláde and: Scotlande. [etc.] [1513?]
- You could say that this is probably the earliest known account of any historical event to be printed in England, and as such represents the birth of British journalism and the precursor of the newspaper of today.
- The first English-language newspapers which are recognisably newspapers (this is, folded news-sheets) were published in Holland (not Britain). Corrant out of Italy, Germany, etc, published in Amsterdam on 2nd December 1620, is the first coranto in English.
- Weekly Newes from Italy, etc., published by Nicholas Bourne and Thomas Archer in London on 23rd May 1622, is the first news book to carry a date of publication on its title page. This publication has some kind of claim to being called the first newspaper published in Britain. It would be much more meaningful to say, though, that ‘Britain began publishing newspapers in the 1620s’.
- The London Gazette (1665- ) is the world’s oldest surviving periodical. Founded on 16th November 1665 as the Oxford Gazette, it became the London Gazette in February 1666.
- The first regular provincial newspaper published in Britain is generally considered to be the Norwich Post, which probably began on 6th September 1701.
Further details about the history of the British newspaper can be found in our ‘Concise History of the British Newspaper Since 1620’.
Can you help me find newspaper press images and descriptions of buildings of the Glasgow Imperial Exhibitions in 1888 and 1901?
There would have been substantial press coverage of the Glasgow Imperial Exhibitions in both UK national newspapers and in the Scottish press. The Newspaper Reading Room provides access to a comprehensive collection of UK national and regional newspapers covering the period that interests you.
The two most important Scottish broadsheets of the period are the Glasgow Herald and The Scotsman. The latter has been digitised and therefore can be searched by a combination of keyword and date to find facsimile images of the newspaper articles. Access to this digital resource is available in Newspaper Reading Room. Private researchers may also subscribe to this database via The Scotsman website. The 19th Century British Library Newspapers database is also available to search in our Reading Room and at many HE and FE institutions in the UK. This database provides access to around 1 million pages of newspapers published between 1800 and 1900. The Glasgow Herald is one of the titles included in this database.
The Times is another important source of information and news reports on the Exhibitions. The Times Digital Archive provides a digital edition of the paper, providing keyword searching to retrieve full facsimile page images and is also available to search in our Reading Room.
Good sources of images are likely to be the illustrated weekly papers published in London such as the Illustrated London News and The Graphic. These are available for consultation on microfilm in the our Reading Room. Another useful source of press images is the Penny Illustrated Paper 1861-1913; which has been digitised and will be available to search free of charge by the end 2008.
Do you have any information on the Daily Special Edition announced in in the bi-weekly editions of the Manchester Examiner & Times for October 1854?
Our microfilm copy of the Manchester Examiner and Times for October 1854 includes “Special daily editions”. These are treated as “specials” by the paper and not as part of the regular pattern of publication. These specials continued to be published through November and December 1854. On 12 December 1854, a separate daily newspaper, The Manchester Daily Times, began publication. Both titles can be consulted in the Newspaper Reading Room.