A Brief Introduction to The Sheffield Daily Telegraph (1855-1950) and The Sheffield Weekly Telegraph (1884-1920)

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According to my research (via The British Newspaper archive), The Sheffield Daily Telegraph ran from 1855-1950 under varied ownership. It was originally published by “bookseller, printer and patent medicine dealer, Joseph Pearce” and “sold…to Frederick Clifford and William Leng” in 1864 (source). Pearce’s third credential is part of the reason for my interest in this particular newspaper, as my dissertation looks at the intersections of print culture and embodiment from a variety of perspectives (including medical humanities).

Although my original intention was to work with Belgravia, A London Magazine, I quickly opted to work with The Sheffield Daily Telegraph for a number of reasons (in addition to Pearce’s patent medicine dealing background). First, newspapers often serialized the same fiction found in middle-class magazines for a more diverse audience. Second, because of the unique way newspapers are formatted, advertisements, illustrations, letters to the editor, and etc., are included right beside (and above, and below) serial installments of novels, editorials, and other major items.Conversely, in a middle-class magazine like Belgravia, single-column pages mean that it’s hard to see the varying elements of the periodical in conversation with one another. Additionally, advertisements and other “ephemera” were often cut from these more well-regarded periodicals, making it hard to study them in their entirety. Third, I wanted to think about how and when regional periodicals outside of London adopted emerging print technologies including things like wood engravings and half-tone illustrations as well as Linotype composition. (According to the British Newspaper Archive, “The Telegraph was one of the first newspapers to introduce linotype printing, whereby a whole line of type could be produced at one time. Faster typesetting by fewer operatives increased output allowing newspapers to increase the number of pages per issue” [source].)

The Sheffield Weekly Telegraph, which was a Saturday supplement to the Daily Telegraph, began circulation in 1884, changed its name to The Weekly Telegraph in 1887, and ceased publication in 1920. It included illustrations and illustrated advertisements from the beginning, while its parent publication, The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, had only minimal illustration (for example, mini-ships acting as bullet points in the shipping news section) and used, primarily, what Herbert Tucker would call “literal illustration,” or words and characters acting as illustrations.*

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph (SDT) and The Sheffield Weekly Telegraph (SWT) serialized many novels for its readers. At the Circulating Library — A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837-1901  notes that there were at least fifty six during the Victorian period. Featured authors included Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins, Ouida, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Walter Besant (source).

If you’d like a more complete history of these publications, take a look at the British Newspaper Archive’s write up (here), and this short history by the Sheffield City Council.

In future posts, I’ll be taking a closer look at the constant and changing elements of the SDT and SWT. I’ll take a look at how the masthead changed over time, what sorts of things tended to be reported, what happened on what pages, and more.

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*“Literal Illustration in Victorian Print.” The Victorian Illustrated Book. Ed. Richard Maxwell. Charlottesville: UP Virginia, 2002. 163-208. Print.

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