On this day

June 18, 1864

cover page of Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review published on June 18, 1864

Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review





Available years


The Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review was launched in March 1862. Its opening issue announced, via a handsome graphic, that it would cover hunting, yachting, cricket, rackets, bowls, billiards, wrestling, the ring, and pedestrianism, and early issues added aquatics, billiards, chess, cribbage, golf, coursing and athletics to the mix. It also reported on the first years of football. Coverage of provincial sport was notably good. Texts were a combination of eyewitness reports on events, fixtures and results listings, and background articles on personalities and the history of individual sports.

True to its title, the newspaper also included coverage of various kinds of theatrical performance. In its latter years (from 1867 onwards) the newspaper increasingly stressed theatrical performance and literature over sports, changing its subtitle in 1869 to a ‘Record of Music, Literature and the Fine Arts’.

The paper’s chief distinguishing feature was its use of illustrations. Its handsome wood engravings, many of them derived from photographs, conjure up the character and the excitement of Victorian sport. Such was the popularity of the illustrations that they were available for sale separately, often ending up on the walls of public houses. There were also engravings of theatrical performances, while the sports illustrations could include images of notable sports figures from the past, going back into the eighteenth century.

Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review played a significant role in developing the iconography of Victorian sport. It supplied a burgeoning market for sports information across the UK, but eventually fell victim to competition, including increased interest in sports from the general press. The similarly-titled and -themed The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News started up four years later, in 1874, with the same recipe of lively, illustrated reporting designed for mass appeal.

Luke McKernan – The British Library

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

  • 1862–65 Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review :
  • 1865–70 Illustrated Sporting and Theatrical 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 Apr 6, 2021 . The latest issues were added in Jul 6, 2021.