Spotlight on the Illustrated London News | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Highlights of the Week on The Archive

This week we are delighted to bring you some very special highlights from The Archive. We are diving into our immense collection to bring you our choice of ‘Newspaper of the Week,’ as well as uncovering headlines from the past.

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Newspaper of the Week

This week’s pick for newspaper of the week is one of our more well known titles, namely the Illustrated London News. The Illustrated London News ran for over 160 years, and was one of the publications known as the ‘Great Eight’ from the 1920s, which incorporated other illustrated titles such as The Tatler and The Bystander.

Number of Pages
Year Range
260532 pages 1842-2003

First printed on 14 May 1842, the Illustrated London News made history by becoming the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine. The brainchild of Nottingham-based businessman Herbert Ingram, who co-owned a printing, newsagent and book-selling business with his brother-in-law, the first edition ran at 16 pages and cost sixpence.

Second edition of the Illustrated London News Illustrated London News | 21 May 1842

Ingram had observed that newspapers and magazines featuring illustrations invariably sold better, and so he decided to set up his own image-filled publication. The first edition captured the young Queen Victoria’s first masquerade ball, and Ingram pulled out all the stops in order to promote his new venture. 200 men with placards roamed the streets of London advertising the Illustrated London News, and as a result 26,000 copies were sold.

Despite some initial teething problems, the Illustrated London News went from strength to strength. An a special edition in 1852 covering the Duke of Wellington’s funeral sold 150,000 copies, and as its popularity grew, soon other illustrated competitors entered the marketplace. These publications included the Illustrated Times.

Duke of Wellington’s special funeral edition | Illustrated London News | 20 November 1852

Herbert Ingram, the enterprising founder of the Illustrated London News, was tragically killed in a paddle steamer accident on Lake Michigan in 1860. His youngest son William Ingram took over as proprietor, and throughout the 1860s the Illustrated London News evolved into a larger business, establishing other titles such as the Penny Illustrated Paper, which was aimed towards the working classes.

From 1890 onwards the Illustrated London News saw more advancements, with the inclusion of photographs alongside its traditional drawings. By the 1920s drawings had all but been replaced by photographs, and meanwhile in 1893 a sister publication was established, namely The Sketch, which featured lighter news and society events.

A striking photograph of German soldiers taking a break in Berlin Illustrated London News | 24 January 1920

Bruce Ingram took the helm in 1900, and ran the company for the next 63 years. After his death, the Illustrated London News switched to a monthly publication in 1971, becoming twice-yearly in 1994, before eventually closing in 2003.

The Illustrated London News brings to life with its vivid drawings, and photographs, the years between 1842 and 2003. It is a veritable visual treasure trove, whilst it also included robust journalism, with contributions from literary giants like Thomas Hardy, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie.

Marriage of a Princess

60 years ago this week, on 6 May 1960, Princess Margaret married photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey. This event was made remarkable by the fact that an estimated 300 million people worldwide watched the ceremony – the first royal wedding to be broadcast on television.

Meanwhile, the Illustrated London News provides some spectacular images of the event. Known for its double-page spreads, the newspaper prints a particularly poignant image of newly-married Princess Margaret curtsying to her sister the Queen, with the historic background of Westminster Abbey giving the gesture a rich sense of Medieval pageantry.

Illustrated London News | 14 May 1960

Search tip: if you are looking for pictures of a particular event in the ‘Illustrated London News,’ limit your search to the weeks after the event, rather than the day itself. This is because the ‘Illustrated London News’ was a weekly publication, and would have not featured news from the day of the event itself.

As well as including some more traditional pictures of the wedding proceedings, such as this view of the newly-married couple’s journey up the Mall, the Illustrated London News also includes some more candid pictures, which will certainly be of interest to those with an interest in royal history.

Illustrated London News | 14 May 1960

Indeed, these two pictures have a behind-the-scenes quality, showing in the first instance Princess Margaret and her new husband Antony Armstrong-Jones leaving the Abbey after the service, and then the royal wedding party, bridesmaids included, waving them off on their honeymoon.

Illustrated London News | 14 May 1960

The happy couple then headed to Tower Pier, from where they departed on the royal yacht Britannia for their six-week honeymoon. They were mobbed by crowds, as the below photograph shows.

Illustrated London News | 14 May 1960

These pictures from the Illustrated London News show us how the wedding of Princess Margaret to Anthony Armstrong-Jones was national, indeed international event. It is a fascinating record, picturing the scores of people who took an interest in the occasion.

You can learn more about the coverage of royal weddings in our special blog.


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