On 14 May 1842, a new publication was launched that would change the face of journalism. The Illustrated London News was the pioneering vision of Herbert Ingram, a Nottinghamshire newsagent and print seller, who observed that his customers clamoured for any newspaper that featured pictures, however crudely engraved. Convinced that a weekly paper carrying news and illustrations could succeed, Ingram enlisted the help of writer Henry Vizetelly and Mark Lemon of Punch to realise his dream.
The first issue of the ILN sold over 20,000 copies; by 1851 its circulation had risen to 130,000. The world’s first illustrated paper soon spawned a host of imitators, but its authoritative reporting and high quality contributors kept it pre-eminent amid a proliferation of illustrated journals.
War reporting was always a great strength of the ILN with its “special artists” sending sketches back from the world’s battlefield. Its celebrated artists included William Simpson, Melton Prior and Frederic Villiers. By the time of the First World War, the ILN had more than 70 years’ experience in pictorial war reporting.
The editor of The Illustrated London News during this time was Bruce Ingram, grandson of the founder. He took on the role aged 22 in 1900 and only stood down in 1964. Serving in the army during the war, and awarded the Military Cross and OBE (military), he still managed to keep in touch with the magazine and his assistant editor, Ernest Hope Goddard.
The Great War coincided with a period when daily newspapers were rivalling the illustrated weeklies in terms of visual content. Ingram concentrated on upholding the ILN’s high standards both in the quality of its production and printing, and in its educational and engaging content drawn from a roster of talented wartime contributors, including author G. K. Chesteron and artists Steven Spurrier, Samuel Begg and Amedee Forestier.
Also noted for its lavishly illustrated “special” numbers recording outstanding events, particularly royal occasions, The Illustrated London News ceased publication in 2003.