On this day December 6, 1868

cover page of Reynolds's Newspaper published on December 6, 1868

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Issues

2,634

Pages

25,644

Available years

1850-1900

Reynolds's Newspaper

Reynolds's Political Instructor , brought out in 1849, was changed by its canny editor to Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper the following year, under which form it is still being published (James, p.43). Founded by George Reynolds and a former clerk, John Dicks. This was Reynolds's most enduring monument.

" Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper , published at a penny, having been commenced on May the 5th, 1850, will be within a few days of attaining its majority when...this volume will be in the hands of the public. The remarkable success of Reynolds's Miscellany, a purely literary penny weekly journal, led by Mr. Reynolds to start his newspaper; and owing to the vigorous character of its writing, in conjunction with the extreme Liberalism of the opinions to the advocacy of which it committed itself at the commencement, it started at once into a large circulation...I believe that the circulation of Reynolds's Newspaper is upwards of 350,000 copies weekly. Its circulation in the manufacturing districts, where democratic sentiments are almost universal among the working classes, is great...There is no paper in her Majesty's dominions in which democratic principles are advocated with the same boldness and vigour as in Reynolds's Newspaper . It glories in the breadth of its Republicanism, and never shrinks from the advocacy of any views which it entertains. And yet though Reynolds's Newspaper is thus the organ of the extreme Republicans throughout the country...Its selections of news are made...and so carefully abridged as to give the largest amount of matter in the fewest words; while the paragraphs which are of the class generally called 'Varieties,' are almost invariably of light and instructive kind. There are certain other attractive features which keep up from week to week. One of these is 'Our Weekly Calendar of Gardening.'...This department of Reynolds's Newspaper is confided to Mr. G.M.F. Glenny, junior,---a name of traditional reputation in whatever relates to the management of the garden...But the feature of greatest general interest is the one under the head of 'Notices to Correspondents.' This feature of the paper usually occupies a whole column of one of its eight pages, each within an inch or two of the size of the Times' pages. As these 'Notices' are printed in very small type, they embrace a large amount of useful information on every variety of subject, furnished in answer to questions put to the Editor by correspondents" (Grant, pp.96-99).

"Advocates the widest possible measures of reform. This is now the leading working man's newspaper. There is a great deal of strong nervous writing in this journal, thickly spiced with abuse of the privileged orders, which causes it to be eagerly read by a certain class. The news and literary departments of the paper are respectably conducted; and, but for its violent politics, it might be characterised as a good family paper." (Mitchell, 1854)

"Started in 1850 as a fourpenny record of social and political scandals, set forth in such detail and with such comments as might prejudice aristocratic institutions with many readers and amuse all...a very large circulation in London, and yet more in the north of England, where Chartist opinions held their ground, and where it acquired an authority which it has since maintained. Styling itself 'democratic', and aiming always at more Radical changes than have been included in any recognised Radical programme, it is the successor of Cobbett's Register and The Poor Man's Guardian rather than of either Leigh Hunt's or Albany Fonblanque's Examiner , and, since the rise of English Socialism, it has been more in sympathy with the Social Democratic federation than with any less revolutionary movement. Not giving so comprehensive a summary of general news as is furnished by Lloyd's , but affording ampler space to the occurrences supporting its arguments, and propounding those arguments in forcibly written articles, in which rhetoric is oftener employed than logic and economical laws are made subservient to sentiment, Reynolds's is a formidable spokesman for the most irreconcilable portions of the community" (Fox Bourne, p.348).

"The most outspokenly radical paper of the day, it appealed to the lower to lower-middle classes, politically democratic and radical, of low educational standard" (Ellegard, p.7). "[The] increased importance of advertising...was most marked after the removal of the newspaper stamp in 1855...The disparity in types of advertising was notable. For example, Reynolds's , as the more radical, less reputable paper (and consequently less attractive to advertisers), continued to accept a large number of patent medicine advertisements while these declined in importance in the more up-market and less politically extreme Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper " (Berridge, pp.204-205).

This paper, "established by G.W.M. Reynolds, found its origins both in the Chartist political press and in the commercial traditions of popular literature. The paper arose out of Reynolds's smaller circulation Reynolds's Political Instructor (1849). It was also the culmination of Reynolds's career in cheap publishing and popular fiction... The readership was still a strongly working-class one and remained so to a remarkable degree...The paper had a strongly artisan readership, and the general 'skilled' category always formed a high proportion of those writing in or responding to appeals...In the 1860's, the emphasis within correspondence columns altered, with a shift of interest away from the 'old' skilled trades toward apprentices and miners... Reynolds's was known for its virulent opposition to flogging in both army and navy" (Berridge, pp.207-208).

This paper "provided for the working man's Sunday, which was the day he had time to read" (Mitchell, S., p.145). Anne Humphreys comments that "even the political and news articles in Reynold's followed the literary conventions for melodrama" (Rose 302). "...early obtained a position as the organ of republican and extreme labour opinions" (Hovell). O'Brien "...may possibly have had some share in the editorial responsibility [for Reynold's Newspaper]." (Cole, p. 264)

Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper was called Reynolds News and Sunday Citizen in 1952 (Herd, p.186).; Together with The News of the World and Lloyd's Illustrated London News , Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper "became the most widely read paper of Victorian England, superseding Bell's Life , the Weekly Dispatch and the Weekly Chronicle " (Engel p.28).

This paper was also considered to be "the most violent" of the cheap weeklies by contemporary historians (Engel p.30).

Harrison writes that the paper began in 1850 as Reynolds Weekly Instructor; a Journal of Democratic Progress and General Intelligence (225).

It is uncertain if this newspaper started on 04 May, 05 May or on 18 May, 1850.

"Rather pretentious. Biographies of prominent Chartists. Describes conditions in various industries. Discusses education, taxes on knowledge, factory acts, etc." (Williams, vol 2, p.521) "Indispensable for ultra-radical activities of 1850's" (Schoyen, p.290).

" The Political Instructor was intended as the pilot-balloon sent forth to test the political atmosphere, preparatory to a more important venture. The experiment has met with unexampled success."

The final issue number twenty-seven is the only one without an etching. All title pages contain engravings of men of the times.

"Started as a Chartist organ; by 1880 pro-radical Liberal, devoting much attention to foreign news with special attention to mistreatment of colonies. In 1889 favoured the formation of a new political party. By 1907 sympathetic to socialists as reformers but not in favour of State control; full of news of stage personalities and murder trials; carried Labour news and had progressive democratic political line (Brophy). Later became the newspaper of the Co-operative movement" (Harrison, p.466).

"... Reynold's Newspaper , appealed to a slightly more plebeian readership interested in radical social reforms as well as sensational fiction and news. Reynold's exuded some of "the spirit of aggressive insubordination" that had sustained the radical journalism of William Cobbett, Thomas J. Wooler, and Richard Carlile in the 1820s, and it often featured stories of crime and punishment while championing trade unionism and workers' rights" (Curtis, p.59).

" Reynold's Newspaper took a broadminded centre-left republican position, overtly defending the working class and serving as a fierce critic of its enemies. As a science critic, Reynold's Newspaper adopted a revisionist position on liberal democratic interpretations of natural law with, for example, a more pro-worker articulation of natural selection. Even so, the paper essentially upheld the authority of science in cultural issues" (McLaughlin-Jenkins, pp.446). "The readership of Reynolds's Newspaper was mainly of the skilled artisan class from which the republican movement was to recruit its membership" (Williams, p.33)

Source: The Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals: 1800-1900.

For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:

  • 1850–51 Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper
  • 1852–1900 Reynolds's Newspaper

This newspaper is published by an unknown publisher in London, London, England. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in May 2, 2013. The latest issues were added in Jun 3, 2013.