A publication filled with lewd and graphic illustrations can create havoc even in today’s times, but what if such scandalous prints have existed back in England in the year 1864?
Imagine the outrage of many people at the sight of limbs being chopped off, heads being crushed, blood spouting from knife wounds, wives beaten by brutal husbands, and kids screaming in agony – these images – printed in a newspaper for the whole of England to read.
Indeed, the Illustrated Police News caused quite a stir, taking advantage of the curiosity of the masses for crime and sensationalism. The controversial newspaper even garnered extreme notoriety in 1888, the year when Jack Ripper preyed upon the women of Whitechapel.
Despite the outrage and having been named as “the worst newspaper in England”, the British periodical was deemed successful. It was founded in 1863, but was first circulated in 1864. It consisted of one pictorial page and three text pages in folio, and sold for one penny. The normal weekly circulation was between 150,000 and 200,000 copies, but special issues could sell as many as 600,000.
The paper’s proprietor, George Purkess, employed over 70 freelance artists and dispatched one of them at the scene of the crime. Prudish Victorians often target Purkess’ artists and many times he was ready to defend them, saying “IPN artists are as good as those working for any rival journal”, which included the Illustrated London News and the Graphic.
Below are some illustrations from the paper itself, published within the years 1864 to 1938.
Not gruesome enough? Here, try these: