Illustrated Police News – Inside the Pages of England’s Worst Newspaper

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.

A dramatic sketch of one of the victims of the infamous Jack the Ripper

A dramatic sketch of one of the victims of the infamous Jack the Ripper

Adrian the Dog-faced Man and his son

Adrian the Dog-faced Man and his son

Miss Charlton takes a walk on the parapet of her family's house in Manchester

Miss Charlton takes a walk on the parapet of her family’s house in Manchester

A young lady somnambulist in Kidderminster is narrowly saved by clinging on to the roof

A young lady somnambulist in Kidderminster is narrowly saved by clinging on to the roof

Clara Dalrymple walks the plank between two houses. She fell, but her dress caught in a lamp-post and she was saved

Clara Dalrymple walks the plank between two houses. She fell, but her dress caught in a lamp-post and she was saved

Madame Broneau falls to her death from a roof in Belfast

Madame Broneau falls to her death from a roof in Belfast

Not gruesome enough? Here, try these:

IPN

IPNIPNIPN

IPN

IPN

CrimebyaGirlof13IPNewsAug121899

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4 thoughts on “Illustrated Police News – Inside the Pages of England’s Worst Newspaper

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