18th-cen­tury news­pa­pers

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The first daily news­pa­pers were pub­lished in the open­ing years of the 18th cen­tury, and by its end ev­ery re­gion had at least one lo­cal ti­tle. Daniel De­foe forged the style of jour­nal­ism with which we’re fa­mil­iar in his Re­view (1703-1713), while Sa­muel John­son found his niche at the Gen­tle­man’s Mag­a­zine, now on­line at bod­ley. ox.ac.uk/ilej/jour­nals and Ances­try.co.uk. Na­tional broad­sheets in­clud­ing The Times and the Ob­server were born dur­ing this pe­riod. The lat­ter is search­able back to 1791 at pqasb. pqarchiver.com/guardian/ad­vanced­search. html and The Times Dig­i­tal Ar­chive from 1785 is avail­able through many li­braries.

The Bri­tish Li­brary News Room pro­vides ac­cess to the largest col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal, mi­cro­filmed and digi­tised news­pa­pers (see bl.uk/sub­jects/news-me­dia). It is home to the Bur­ney Col­lec­tion of pam­phlets and pa­pers col­lected by Revd Charles Bur­ney in the 18th cen­tury. Hun­dreds of pro­vin­cial ti­tles have also been scanned into british­news­pa­per­ar­chive. co.uk (avail­able on find­my­past.co.uk) where they are word search­able.

In con­trast to late 19th- cen­tury news­pa­pers, ear­lier pa­pers were sub­jected to stamp duty, mak­ing them ex­pen­sive. No­tices of births, mar­riages and deaths are not ter­ri­bly lengthy, tend­ing to fo­cus on well-to-do mem­bers of so­ci­ety. They be­came more di­verse to­wards the end of the cen­tury, the Bris­tol Mer­cury of 1 March 1790 lament­ing the death of Wil­liam Arkel, a “poor old pen­sioner with two wooden legs, who for many years sat un­der a shed in the Grove, Bath, knit­ting purses to­ward his sup­port”. The provin­cials also ded­i­cated col­umns to ship­ping news, clas­si­fied ad­verts, no­tices of bankrupts and crimes of pas­sion.

The first is­sue of from 1785,

in 1788

which be­came

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