Victorian Newspapers

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Victorian Newspapers: The Source for Inquiring Minds

In William Makepeace Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair, George Sedley Osborne exhibits a desire to have his name appear in the newspapers. Furthermore, he is not the only one in Vanity Fair who is concerned with the newspapers, considering the fact that the words "newspaper" and "newspapers" appear twenty-two times in Thackeray's novel. Still, there is much more to know about Victorian newspapers than Thackeray imparts to his readers. Although George is unsuccessful in getting his name in print, the following information will be successful in illustrating to its readers the when, where, and why of newspapers in the Victorian era. The Nineteenth century included a monumental step for the world of newspapers. In fact, the "first papers to resemble the daily newspaper of the mid-twentieth century were the penny papers of the 1830's" (Hartman 17). Though their origins began in the Victorian era, the newspapers read today barely resemble the sparse "penny papers" years ago (Hartman 17).

Reader Appeal

Victorian newspapers found their start as expensive publications that were essentially unattainable by the lower classes. The reason for this inaccessibility is accounted for by the additional tax placed on newspapers during this time. This tax "took the form of a stamp duty, paid and recorded on every copy" ("Images"). Nevertheless, the sales of newspapers continually climbed. In addition, the "early select papers appealed only to man, the political animal" (Sampson 855). Indeed, the majorities of topics found in an early Victorian newspaper were political, and also sought to be partisan, rather than non-partisan. Finally, towards the end of the century, papers appealing to the "whol...

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