Edward Lloyd, Shoreditch to Fleet Street, 1836–1856: Popular Print and the Working Classes

McKenzie, Matthew (2021). Edward Lloyd, Shoreditch to Fleet Street, 1836–1856: Popular Print and the Working Classes. Student dissertation for The Open University module A826 MA History part 2.

This dissertation was produced by a student studying the Open University postgraduate module A826 MA History part 2. The research showcased here achieved a distinction.
Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.
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In his lifetime, Edward Lloyd was called the ‘Father of the Cheap Press’ and by tracing his progress from Shoreditch to Fleet Street, this paper explores the development of literacy in working-class London in the first half of the nineteenth century; the parallel development of the printing technology necessary to support rising circulations; and popular literature both as penny serial fiction and inexpensive weekly newspapers produced by Lloyd that combined to form the first media for the masses.

Using evidence provided by consulting the primary sources and original copies of Oliver Twiss, Lloyd’s Entertaining Journal, The Penny Sunday Times, and Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper; comparing the characterisations in Prest’s Oliver Twiss with those in Dickens’s Oliver Twist; and examining his newspaper’s editorial content, it will be demonstrated that Lloyd was the first in his field to publish an illustrated penny newspaper, and far from cynical manipulation of popular taste, Lloyd’s desire from the very beginning, was to encourage and support the working man (and woman).

He provided cheap reading material that people genuinely wanted to read, rather than the radical or proselytising publications of his competitors. His newspapers always campaigned for his reader’s benefit and were priced at the lowest amount economically possible. As soon as the final ‘Tax on Knowledge’ was abolished, Lloyd reduced the price to the iconic penny and the newspaper Lloyd founded in 1843 became so popular and successful that it was the first in the world to achieve a circulation of one million copies.

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