This week at The Archive we have a lucky thirteen brand new titles, whilst we have added 139, 284 brand new pages over the past seven days. We have a trio of brand new sporting titles joining us this week, each with a focus on boxing, golf and football, a new Welsh political title, as well as a new publication focussing on the latest news from South Africa.
So read on to discover more about all these new newspaper titles, as well as the eight historic London titles we have added this week, which includes the remarkable ‘spelled as spoken’ Fonetic Nuz. Meanwhile, we have also made updates to 22 of our existing titles.
We start this week by looking at the three new sporting titles we have added, and we begin with Athletic Chat. First published on 8 March 1900 as Athletic Chat, before going through several incarnations variously named Football Chat and Athletic and Sporting Chat, this specialist sporting newspaper cost one penny and promised to focus on football, racing, cricket, cycling, swimming, athletics, golf, running and cross-country.
However, the main focus of Athletic Chat, thanks to the sport’s ever-growing popularity, was football, with reports on the beautiful game from up and down Great Britain. For example, you can find sections entitled ‘Millwall Notes,’ ‘Manchester Chat,’ ‘Nottingham Jottings’ and ‘Tottenham and District Gossip,’ all focusing on football news from local teams.
Athletic Chat did cover other sports, however, such as racing and rugby. Containing sporting illustrations, Athletic Chat was also known for its ‘Rhymes,’ which were original lines of verse with a sporting theme.
One of Athletic Chat’s most famous editors was John James Bentley (1860-1918), who began his playing career at Turton F.C., one of the world’s oldest football clubs. He gave up playing at the relatively young age of 25, as he was ‘inspired by the vision of what football could become.’ One of early football’s most formidable business forces, he also edited the Athletic News as well as writing for the Daily Express and Daily Mail.
Our next new sporting title of the week is Boxing World and Mirror of Life, which was begun simply as the Mirror of Life. Originally, this publication aimed to provide ‘Accurate Illustrations of the Leading Events of the Day.’ At the price of two pence, you could peruse such illustrations as ‘How Criminals are Executed’ and ‘A Thrashing for a Flirt.’ These illustrations, much in the style of contemporary and salacious publication the Illustrated Police News, were accompanied by explanatory articles. Also featured in the Mirror of Life were ‘Turf Notes,’ featuring the latest racing news, portraits of the day’s leading sports and theatre celebrities, news from the boxing world in ‘Round the Ring,’ as well as ‘Stage Gossip.’
By 1907 the Mirror of Life had developed more of a sporting focus, and in the same year it changed its name to the Mirror of Life and Sport, now describing itself as ‘An Illustrated Journal of Sport.’ It now featured a bumper crop of different sporting articles, from ‘Boxing in the Antipodes’ to ‘The Grappling Game.’ Still featuring the illustrations for which it was known; it concentrated on sports like rowing, racing and wrestling.
But boxing was really at the heart of the Mirror of Life and Sport, and so in 1912 it changed its name to the Mirror of Life and Boxing World, before becoming in 1919 Boxing World and Mirror of Life. Costing now one penny, and featuring photographs, Boxing World and Mirror of Life contained boxing news from across Great Britain and the world, with such features as ‘Whispers from Wales,’ ‘The Game in Scotland,’ and ‘Paris Boxing World.’ It also featured detailed match reports, alongside some racing and football news.
The third of our trio of new sporting titles is the simply named Golf, which was ‘A Weekly Record of ‘Ye Royal and Auncient Game.’’ Costing two pence, and published in London, it ran with the motto of ‘Far and Sure.’
Initial reviews of the golfing publication were immensely positive. Golf apparently contained:
…one and all matter attractive not only to the players themselves, but all – and they are to be numbered by hundreds of thousands – who delight to read of the prowess of golfers in matches and competitions.
So what else did Golf feature? Well, prominence was given to club competitions, and one reviewer states how:
…there is additional zest in the chronicling of new records, the formation of new Clubs, and the laying out of new courses, with, in addition, original golfing rhymes and songs, tales and sketches, hints to beginners by those well qualified to give these, and a series of special articles written by such well-known experts as the Rev. W. Proudfoot, Mr Horace Hutchinson, &c. Attention is still given to questions of the rules, and the etiquette of the game.
Golf was nothing but a fond companion to the ancient game, with illustrations accompanying its articles. You can also find within its pages reports from clubs across Great Britain and Ireland, as well as correspondence from readers, who asked such questions as ‘Can Golf Be Played at Paris?,’ a ‘Ladies’ Letter,’ competition results in full, and a myriad of golf related advertisements.
Joining our collection of political titles this week is the Labour Pioneer (Cardiff). The ‘Organ of the Cardiff Socialist Party,’ the Labour Pioneer (Cardiff) was first published on 1 February 1900, costing only halfpence. The Cardiff Socialist Party had only been founded that very same year, representing a fusion of branches from the Independent Labour Party and the Socialist Democratic Federation.
The new title, in its first edition, laid out its aims as follows:
To The Workers – We, the Socialist Party of Cardiff, have entered upon a new departure. We have decided to start a small local journal…Our desire is to place the truths of Socialism and the need of Social Reform within the reach of all who take an interest in the welfare of suffering humanity.
The Labour Pioneer was set to be a monthly title, published on the first day of the month and edited by T.J. Hart, the president of the Cardiff Trade’s Council, alongside A.E. Ellery. Indeed, the newspaper’s editorial board featured representatives from local trade unions and trade councils.
But what sort of content did the Labour Pioneer contain? Alongside editorials from both Ellery and Hart, you can find such articles as ‘Labour’s Outlook,’ ‘Workers and Idlers’, and ‘Echoes from the Council Chamber.’ Within its pages you can also find news from trade unions, correspondence, and even the latest from the Workers’ Cycling Club.
Our next new title of the week is the Cape and Natal News, which helps to illuminate the story of the British Commonwealth, this time from a South African perspective. The Cape and Natal News was first published in London on 7 October 1858 in a bid to bring Britain’s colony in South Africa to the attention of the public. Costing five pence and consisting of sixteen pages, it dubbed itself ‘A Monthly Record of the Progress of the South African Colonies.’
The new colonial title laid out its publishing mission as follows:
The Cape and Natal News has been established for the purpose of directing the attention of the capitalists and of the working classes to the advantages which the British possessions in South Africa possess as a profitable field for the profitable enjoyment of capital and for the constant and steady demand for almost every description of useful and productive labour.
The Cape and Natal News, was, therefore, a propaganda vehicle with the expressed intention of encouraging emigration to Britain’s Cape Colony, which stretched from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, and the Natal region, which had been annexed from the Boers in 1847.
Meanwhile, the newspaper expressed its frustration over how Britain’s colony in South Africa had been overlooked by potential settlers:
Hitherto the wants of this great colony have been greatly overlooked by those among our working classes who have sought, by emigration, to improve their condition.
It is fascinating that the Cape and Natal News levies their criticism of the working classes for their choices of Australia, California and Canada as their emigration destinations, when it was from the working classes that they were looking to recruit! However, the newspaper was hailed as ‘a step well calculated to keep the colonies before the public.’
In a two column format, the Cape and Natal News featured a ‘summary of intelligence from the Cape of Good Hope,’ as well as containing ‘chief matters of interest from the Cape of Good Hope,’ which formed the bulk of this publication. Topics covered included government affairs, social events and accidents, as well as a calendar for the month. Meanwhile, there were sections devoted to ‘Our Progress’ and shipping and commercial news, as well as news from Natal and the Orange Free State.
We move now to the titles that have been digitised as part of the British Library’s Heritage Made Digital project, and we start with the historic Whitehall Evening Post. Eminently historic title the Whitehall Evening Post was founded in 1718 by Robinson Crusoe author Daniel Defoe. Although he left his relatively new publication just two years later in 1720, the Whitehall Evening Post thrived, and was published three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
By 1800 the Whitehall Evening Post cost six pence and consisted of four pages, published by Bunney and Gold from Shoe Lane, Fleet Street. Within its pages you can find the London Gazette, with its list of bankrupts and insolvents, as well as law and parliamentary intelligence, court news, poetry, shipping news, agricultural news and notices of births, marriages and deaths.
This venerable old title closed in 1801 with issue number 8,487. It was then merged with the English Chronicle.
Guiding us through the murky waters of early nineteenth century news is our next new title Pilot (London). Pilot (London) was an early London daily newspaper which consisted of four pages and cost six pence. Unsurprisingly, given its nautical name, this title had a focus on maritime news, giving readers the latest shipping intelligence from across Great Britain and beyond. It also featured news from seaside towns like Brighton, Weymouth and Margate.
Featuring the news from the mails, for example from Gothenburg in Sweden, and international news from Spain and Portugal, Pilot also had a domestic focus, reporting on the doings of the royal family, as well as featuring ‘law reports’ and notices of births, marriages and deaths.
Joining us this week too is the Weekly Times (London). A ‘highly popular and independent Journal,’ the Weekly Times (London) vowed to contain ‘a great Variety of ORIGINAL ARTICLES than any other Weekly Paper published.’ Consisting of four pages and costing seven pence, the Weekly Times (London) appeared every Saturday and was printed by Thomas Richards, direct from Fleet Street.
Meanwhile, the Weekly Times (London) also promised to feature:
The Legal Register – Anecdotes of the Bar – Notes of the Week – A Digest of important Parliamentary Proceedings – Theatrical, Law and Police Intelligence – Reviews of Literature – Original Poetry – Together with a well-arranged Compendium of the Foreign and Domestic News of the Week.
Another weekly paper to join us this week is the British Mercury or Wednesday Evening Post. ‘Printed in Quarto, containing eight Pages, on the best and largest Paper used,’ the British Mercury or Wednesday Evening Post was first published on 30 April 1806 and cost seven and a half pence. Announcing itself as a ‘new London Weekly Paper; Particularly worthy of Introduction into all well-regulated Families throughout the Kingdom,’ the British Mercury was published every Wednesday.
Conducted upon a ‘liberal and impartial Plan,’ which had seen the newspaper secure an ‘extensive circulation’ over its first year of existence, the British Mercury promised to feature ‘the earliest and most authentic Foreign and Domestic Intelligence.’ Furthermore, it promised to cover:
The Debates in Parliament; the Proceedings in the Courts of Law and Equity; The Official Acts of Government; the State of Literature and Manners; the Progress of Fine and Useful Arts; and the Improvements in Agriculture, Manufacturers and Commerce.
If this wasn’t enough, the British Mercury also featured coverage of the week’s accidents and offences, reports on ongoing trials, and notices of births, marriages and deaths.
Up next is Representative. First published on 25 January 1826 by Thomas Cope, Representative was a daily morning newspaper which cost seven pence. ‘Intended to convey the Earliest and most Authentic Political, Commercial and Domestic Intelligence,’ it featured news from as far away as Chile, as well as the latest from the French and German papers.
Consisting of four pages, Representative contained sections like ‘Law Intelligence’ and ‘Ship News,’ as well as featuring auction notices and notices of births, marriages and deaths. Also contained on its front page were adverts for a range of diverse items, including portable baths and opera boxes!
Some five years later and our remarkable radical title Berthold’s Political Handkerchief burst onto the scene. This intriguingly named publication came about from ‘an ingenious attempt’ to avoid the stamp tax which was levied on newspapers in the early 1830s. In its attempt to avoid taxation, Berthold’s Political Handkerchief was ‘printed on cotton fabric instead of paper,’ a magnificent and eye-catching ruse undertaken by political writer and radical Henry Berthold.
Indeed, in the first issue of his Political Handkerchief Berthold extolls the virtues of his new printing medium:
Cotton For Ever! Cotton makes very bad paper in all that comes from the United States of America; but when finely woven, it is a very pretty thing to print on…Paper is torn and wasted; but a piece of printed cotton may be read and then used for a thousand different purposes. It is possible, If the ink will wash out, that after six months reading, we may be able to buy back and use the cotton again. We shall perform wonders with cotton.
Berthold was onto something; his idea of recycling his cotton newssheet was certainly ahead of his time. But for Berthold his Political Handkerchief had the main aim of urging the people to revolt against government and the national debt. The first edition, which was published on 3 September 1831, contained the ‘Remarkable Prophecy of the Emperor Napoleon, as regards England, France, Russia, and other European States.’ Included in the prophecy was this rallying cry:
The people have only to know that all power emanates from themselves.
But what else could you find within the pages of Berthold’s Political Handkerchief? Well, the first edition, which cost four pence, even featured an engraving of Napoleon crossing the Alps, a remarkable publishing feat. You could also discover in its pages the latest domestic political news, as well as discussion on European politics, taxation and police news, and notices of new publications. The first edition featured a lengthy description of the coronation of William IV.
But Berthold’s ruse was soon to land him and vendors of his newspaper in hot water. One Owen Davis in September 1831 was charged with selling Berthold’s Political Handkerchief. Davis protested that he did not know he was committing an offence, given that the newspaper was published on cotton and not on paper, and that it really should be Berthold facing prosecution in his stead.
The authorities, however, were firm. It did not matter upon which material a newspaper was printed, a newspaper was still a newspaper and needed to be taxed as such. So after just ten issues, publication of Berthold’s Political Handkerchief was suspended.
And Henry Berthold was eventually arrested, but not for his clever publishing ploy. He was eventually charged with stealing a boa and sentenced to seven years’ transportation. He died in the prison hospital at Macquarie Bay Penal Colony, Sydney, Australia.
Meanwhile, some sixty years after his failed publishing venture, a first edition of Berthold’s Political Handkerchief came up for auction. An article from 1896 relates how ‘the letter press is fairly legible,’ which was ‘as remarkable as the material on which it is printed.’ It then was regarded as a curiosity, the newspaper’s politics dismissed as ‘intensely Radical.’
Our penultimate new title of the week is the simply named Brief. With its Shakespearian motto of ‘Therefore, – since brevity is the soul of wit…I will be brief,’ weekly London title Brief burst onto the publishing scene on 3 November 1877. ‘A Weekly Epitome of Current News, Thought and Opinion,’ this lively newspaper, consisting of 24 pages, could be yours for just one penny.
Brief soon garnered for itself rave reviews, its simple format in assembling the week’s news gaining approval from critics. One such review read as follows:
The first number of a new London weekly paper, entitled ‘Brief’ was published last Saturday. It is a well-arranged and handy sized paper, and contains such a resume of news of the week – foreign, home, and colonial – as is rarely seen. To those of our readers who have not much time for reading, it will be a pleasing record of the events of the day, and we heartily recommend it to their notice.
Standing out from other newspapers of the time due to its two column format, Brief contained such articles as ‘Mr. Gladstone in Ireland,’ ‘Foreign Labour in England,’ and ‘The Future of the Prince of Wales.’ Meanwhile, it featured such sections as ‘Wit and Humour,’ ‘Playing and Singing,’ ‘Art and Science,’ ‘Dress and Fashion, and ‘The Cloth.’
Brief later became known as The Week’s News.
Our final new title of the week is the Fonetic Nuz – a newspaper dedicated to spelling reform and the promotion of the phonetic alphabet. Keep reading to discover more about this bold and remarkable mid-nineteenth century title, and how it caused controversy upon its publication in 1849.
Meanwhile, we have also updated twenty two of our existing titles, full details of which can be found at the end of this blog. We have made significant updates to Essex title the Saffron Walden Weekly News, the Hampshire Advertiser, and Stockton’s Northern Weekly Gazette. Meanwhile, we have also added more pages to our wonderful fashion trade publication the Tailor & Cutter.
‘Spelled as Spoken’ – The Rise and Fall of the Fonetic Nuz
Pioneering spelling reform newspaper Fonetic Nuz was first published, to much derision, on 6 January 1849, the brainchild of Alexander J. Ellis and Isaac Pitman. Mathematician, philologist and early phonetician, Alexander J. Ellis (1814-1890) was born Alexander Sharpe, before he changed to his mother’s surname, in recognition of the financial aid her family had given him.
Initially studying mathematics, Ellis became interested in the study of language, and most especially, in the study of phonetics, that is, in the study of speech sounds. Throughout his lifetime he developed two different phonetic alphabets, including the English Phonetic Alphabet, which he developed with Isaac Pitman, and the Palaeotype Alphabet, which described the pronunciation of English.
It was Ellis who wrote the article on phonetics for the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1887, and he was also elected as a member of the Royal Society. Ellis’s further claim to fame was that he was the prototype for George Bernard Shaw’s character Professor Henry Higgins in his play Pygmalion, which was later made into musical My Fair Lady.
But it was Ellis’s passion for spelling reform which saw him publish the Fonetic Nuz in 1849. He believed that the use of phonetic spelling could increase literacy rates and aid education. Indeed, he laid out several ‘Facts for Spellers of the Old School’ in the first edition of Fonetic Nuz:
- IT IS A FACT, that no one can tell the sound of an English word from its spelling.
- IT IS A FACT, that no one can tell the spelling of an English word from its sound.
- IT IS A FACT, there is no way of teaching to read English but by pointing to a word and telling its sound.
Fonetic Nuz points out the low literacy levels in Great Britain at the time; citing the example of how one in two women and one in three men signed their marriage certificate with a cross during the previous year. This, however, Ellis believed, could be changed by spelling reform, and the use of phonetics.
The Oxford University and City Herald announces the birth of this new pioneering new publication on the 6 January 1849, stating how 5 million ‘Englishmen can not read’ and how 8 million ‘Englishmen can not write:’
The Phonetic News, conducted by A.J. Ellis, B.A., will be the organ of THE SPELLING REFORM; and will advocate Universal Unsectarian State Education; Parliamentary Reform; Progress in all things; Progress towards Christian Charity, Universal Peace, Abolition of Capital and all Vindictive Punishments, Reformatory Treatment of Criminals, and Civil Honours for Civil Merits. The Phonetic News will be strictly adapted for Family Reading, and complete in all its departments. It will contain all the News of the Week.
The Fonetic Nuz had bold and lofty aims, not just regarding spelling reform, but general reform too. But the Fonetic Nuz was greeted with a ‘chorus of ridicule.’ This was because the title was written phonetically, using Ellis and Pitman’s English Phonetic Alphabet. And so, within its pages you could find the latest news from Frans, Jermani, and Itali, as well as reports on the ‘roal famili,’ and ‘Persunal Nuz.’
It created quite a stir amongst the media, although the Fonetic Nuz was not without its supporters. Indeed, the first edition of the newspaper lists the members of the Phonetic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, featuring articles on spelling reform. Indeed, an advertisement in The Suffolk Chronicle; or Weekly General Advertiser & County Express from November 1848 tells of how the:
Phonetic Corresponding Society, which important & rapidly increasing body now numbers nearly 2000 members, [is] scattered over the whole of Great Britain and Ireland, and all working in their several spheres to advance the Phonetic cause.
The last number of the Phonetic News contains some interesting intelligence from various parts of the country, which is very encouraging to the friends of spelling reform. In many of the manufacturing districts, the friends of education are teaching ignorant adults and children, by means of reformed orthography, to read in an almost incredibly short time.
The Phonetic News has already given up the ghost, as a weekly newspaper, after two or three weeks existence – a consummation which might have been foreseen from the first.
This update was not strictly accurate; one more edition of the Fonetic Nuz would be published, on 25 May 1849. Meanwhile, the Cork Examiner contained this satirical piece on 13 April 1849, mourning its demise:
SAKRED 2 de MEMMURI OPH DE FONETIC NUZ, witch expired matrsh, 1849, aphtur lingering 4 sum week, in de gratist pane oph de publishers windo:
Afflixyuns soar long time it boar,
Fizishunz was in vane;
It would not sell, sou doun it phel
And eye hope dey wont tri it agane.
But even after its dissolution, the Fonetic Nuz was still talked about. Two years later in October 1851 the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General Advertiser published an article entitled ‘The Spelling Reform,’ reminding its readers of the existence of the Fonetic Nuz:
‘Ah, yes,’ exclaims one of your readers, with some impatience, ‘I know all about it: it’s one of those latter-day humbugs, like teetotalism, vegetarianism, homoeopathy, and so on. Don’t you remember seeing that queer looking newspaper that came out some time ago, called the Phonetic News. One half of the world growled at it, and the other half laughed at it. Well, that paper was the organ of what is called the Spelling Reform. It didn’t live long though, so you needn’t trouble yourself any more about it.’
The writer of this article points out that the last edition of the Fonetic Nuz actually had ‘a larger sale than any previous one,’ and as for the cause of spelling reform, it was ‘not dead.‘ Meanwhile, Alexander Ellis’s colleague Isaac Pitman, and president of the Phonetic Society, had this to say in February 1872, as reported in The Dublin Builder:
The ‘Phonetic News’ (Nuz), thanks to Punch, seems to have served no use to reform than to point a joke. Nevertheless, it was published by a gentleman who, at the time, had a warm heart and a clear head for the Spelling Reform.
He goes on to say of Ellis:
He entered into the publishing business in connection with it, and made more haste than good speed. He spent a great deal of money on the ‘Phonetic News,’ and soon after retired from the cause. I regret this disaster, perhaps, more than anybody else…
Pitman is at pains to point out that his own publication, the Phonetic Journal, had been in circulation ‘through thirty-seven consecutive years.’ However, the Phonetic Journal was published for the benefit of the Phonetic Society, with its 2,000 members across Britain and Ireland, and never had such ambitious publishing aims as the doomed Fonetic Nuz.
Meanwhile, in 1913 the Fonetic Nuz was still in the press. The Bournemouth Guardian reflects how ‘the proposed method’ of spelling reform was ‘ridiculed in some quarters, [but] strongly upheld in others.’ It also details, despite support from high quarters, why this spelling reform movement, and its attendant newspaper, might have failed:
Gladstone, too, was in warm sympathy with the movement, and wrote: ‘If I were younger and had some things off my hands I would gladly take hold of this reform.’ He made herculean appeals, but though, for a time, the cause was powerfully backed, it seems to have failed to make headway, and our quaint spelling remains very much where it was. It is both an infliction on, and an affliction to, the rising generation. A child could be taught to spell rationally within a very few weeks, whereas now a few years is insufficient.
And so, after a few turbulent months, which made its publisher ill, the Fonetic Nuz came to an end. A bold but ill-fated venture, we are delighted to feature this unique publication on The Archive.
|Athletic Chat||1900-1901, 1903, 1905-1909|
|Berthold’s Political Handkerchief||1831|
|Boxing World and Mirror of Life||1894-1904, 1907-1924|
|British Mercury or Wednesday Evening Post||1806-1812, 1814, 1818-1821, 1823-1825|
|Cape and Natal News||1858-1870, 1879|
|Golf||1891, 1894-1895, 1897, 1899|
|Labour Pioneer (Cardiff)||1900|
|Weekly Times (London)||1832|
|Whitehall Evening Post||1801|
This week we have updated twenty two of our existing titles.
You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.
|Cavan Weekly News and General Advertiser||1893|
|Instructor and Select Weekly Advertiser||1809|
|Kilrush Herald and Kilkee Gazette||1900|
|Larne Reporter and Northern Counties Advertiser||1873|
|London Moderator and National Adviser||1814, 1820-1823|
|Manchester Daily Examiner & Times||1872|
|Northern Weekly Gazette||1911, 1917|
|Pontefract Advertiser||1874, 1897|
|Saffron Walden Weekly News||1890, 1990-1992|
|Standard of Freedom||1848-1849|
|Tailor & Cutter||1889, 1911|
|Weekly Free Press and Aberdeen Herald||1891|
|Wisbech Chronicle, General Advertiser and Lynn News||1888|
|Wooler’s British Gazette||1820-1823|