The True Sun was founded due to a feud between Patrick Grant and Murdo Young. Both had collaborated on the newspaper The Sun (1792-1871), but when Grant fell into financial difficulties, Young took ownership of the paper. Grant believed he had been swindled in the process. In retaliation he launched The True Sun, and included a statement in the first issue, which was then reprinted in the following eight, explaining the dispute and his reasons for starting a new newspaper.
Charles Dickens undertook one of his first journalistic engagements as a Parliamentary reporter for The True Sun, entering its staff from the outset. The length of his connection to the paper is unclear and no work has confidently been attributed to him, but it is very likely that he was one of the Parliamentary reporters who covered the passing of the Reform Act over a period of months in 1832. It also seems likely that he was involved in a strike of The True Sun’s reporters which is believed to have taken place in July 1832, and this might have signalled the end of his involvement with the paper. Dickens was just one of several well-known literary and political figures to be involved with the paper, with others including the Radical reformer William Carpenter; the journalist Douglas Jerrold, and the essayist and poet Leigh Hunt.
Numerous comments were made about the lavish way in which The True Sun was run by Grant, touching on the lavish decoration of its building, and the high number of editorial staff, all of whom were paid large salaries. The paper was also rarely out of legal trouble, beginning with a reporters strike in July 1832, but largely focused around issues of libel law, which at the time focused on damage to reputation regardless of whether statements made were true or false. A particularly damaging case for The True Sun was a libel suit brought by Henry Winchester at the end of 1833, which resulted with Grant and the editor, John Bell, spending six months in prison, and their printer and publisher, John Ager, also serving one month, in early 1834. Almost immediately the newspaper faced further difficulties, with the conductors being tried for seditious libel by the government, and the sentences of Grant and Bell were extended.
The True Sun covered a number of key political events, including the run up to the passing of the 1832 Reform Act, which is strongly supported. Coverage within the newspaper highlighted the troubled political landscape of the period, with an editorial questioning Lord Grey’s attempts to have new Whig Peers appointed, extensive coverage of the debates surrounding the Reform Bill, both in the Commons and in the Lords frequent expressions of worry about the watering down of the Bill during Committee stage, and an express Second Edition covering the resignation of ministers after the Bill was thrown out by the House of Lords. The high level scrutiny of events continued into the period known at the ‘Days of May’, after the resignation of the Whig ministers and the forming of a short-lived Tory government led by the Duke of Wellington. When the Reform Bill was finally passed the newspaper published a jubilant editorial, calling it a ‘triumph of truth and opinion’.
The True Sun made a point of its quickness of coverage of the unfolding events, highlighting the express editions they produced, and including snippets from other newspapers telling of how quickly they were able to reprint the most up-to-date news thanks to The True Sun’s reporting. On days when the news was particularly fast paced, the True Sun often produced as many as four editions, with their parliamentary reporters working well into the night to provide intelligence. This all continued a practice that Patrick Grant, in collaboration with Murdo Young, had begun on the Sun newspaper. Even after the issue of the Reform Act was resolved, The True Sun was keen to market itself as providing timely parliamentary news, publishing a 2nd Edition ‘in time for the post, comprising the Debates in Parliament up to Half-Past Six o’clock, of the same Evening’.
From 10 February 1833 a weekly version of The True Sun, the Weekly True Sun was launched. A note that appeared in the True Sun after notice had been given of the new publication, but before it had started production, suggested that readers were worried it was meant to supersede the daily edition. They were reassured that this was not the case, and it was explained that the weekly edition was aimed at those who could not afford a daily paper, but who supported the causes of The True Sun. The two papers, while sharing a political focus and largely identical news content, were quite different publications, with the Weekly True Sun containing longer articles and more literary content.
In April 1835 the financial difficulties of those conducting The True Sun reached a head, and the paper, along with the Weekly True Sun, was sold by the Crown, ending Patrick Grant, and his editors’ association with both papers. At this point the paper lost much of its strident radicalism, but it continued to struggle and was never financially stable. In December 1837, The True Sun was sold once again, this time to Murdo Young, and was incorporated with The Sun (1792-1871), the newspaper it had originally been founded to challenge. The reasons for the sale were presented as financial, with a note in the final issue blaming the low wages of their readers for preventing high enough sales to sustain the venture.
Beth Gaskell, The British Library
For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:
- 1832–37 The True Sun.
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 Jul 28, 2021 . The latest issues were added in Jul 29, 2021.