On this day

May 20, 1876

cover page of Illustrated Police News published on May 20, 1876

Illustrated Police News





Available years


The Illustrated Police News , Law Courts and Weekly Record was founded in 1864. It was the first, and most long-lasting, Saturday penny newspaper that combined two hugely popular Victorian genres: the police newspaper and the illustrated journal.

Its founder, George Purkess, was a London publisher who already specialised in the publication of cheap "true stories" of crime, accidents and domestic disaster. The subject matter of his newspaper was very similar. It collated sensational or unusual stories, often drawn from the London Police Courts, but also reports of mishap from elsewhere in Britain and the world. While repeatedly emphasising the "true" nature of the stories, it was their entertainment and curiosity value that was crucial to the success of the News .

The News 's front page consisted largely of artists' impressions of these events combined with attention-grabbing headlines, which were reported in full inside the newspaper. The Illustrated London News pioneered the mass publication of engravings from 1842, and spawned many cheaper, popular publications. The Illustrated Police News took advantage of the abolition of the newspaper taxes during 1855-61 to offer an original, entertaining four-page newspaper catering to the popular demand for vivid portrayals of melodrama.

As the News expanded in the 1890s, reaching twelve magazine-sized pages by 1897, the topics covered also diversified. Previously news unrelated to disaster had filled no more than a single column, but new popular items were now published. These included more explicit sexual material, such as 'original saucy songs', jingoistic reports from the Boer War, book reviews, extensive advertising and sporting news, with as much as a whole page devoted to boxing in almost every issue.

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

  • 1864–1938 The Illustrated Police News

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 3, 2013 . The latest issues were added in Feb 16, 2021.