I am a self-confessed history geek. There is no point in denying it. Having spent almost eight years at university studying all things Victorian – from literature to politics – I sometimes find it difficult adapting to life in the 21st century. | spend my spare time sourcing antiques for my Victorian terrace house and reading books written in or about the 19th century. I also have a particular passion for vintage newspapers. This was the great age of print media when printing got quicker and cheaper and newspapers were sold in unprecedented numbers – and among the most influential was the Illustrated London News.
First published in May 1842, it is credited with being the world’s first illustrated newspaper (I won’t take issue with that here, but if you’re interested check out the publisher Edward Lloyd) and it remained in print (as a weekly and then monthly paper) until 1988. In this time the paper reported on everything from the crimes of Jack the Ripper to the coronation of Elizabeth II – all with its iconic front page illustrations.
These illustrations weren’t just part of the headline story though, as time went on they became vast full-page images depicting the most sensational and newsworthy stories of the day. Among the pivotal moments captured by the paper are the invention of Edison’s phonography, the outbreak of the First World War and Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. In short: the key historical events of the last 100 years.
The good news for history buffs like me is that you can now see these iconic covers printed side by side in a commemorative bound volume, published by Historic Newspapers. Fully personalised – you get your name embossed on the front cover in swanky silver foil – the volume also includes a selection of covers from the year of your birth.
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a historian, bibliophile or just ‘someone who has everything’ (we all know at least one), the Illustrated London News Archive Book is just the thing.