The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

IV. The Growth of Journalism

§ 27. The Observer

The Observer, a Sunday paper still in existence, was the first to adopt wood engraving after Bewick’s development of the art; but, in 1806, The Times had an illustration, slightly influenced by Bewick’s method, of Nelson’s funeral car. The Observer’s illustrations of the Cato street conspiracy in 1820, of the trial of queen Caroline in the same year and the coronation of George IV, of his visit to Ireland in the following year and of the famous murder of Weare by Thurtell, Probert and Hunt in 1823, were striking instances of ability to cater for a public on the lookout for sensational effect. The Observer, indeed, was a worthy forerunner of the cheap illustrated newspapers numerous at the end of the century.

The Illustrated London News was, however, a great leap forward. Among the thirty-two woodcuts of the first number was a view of the burning of Hamburg, apparently drawn from the inner Alster. Some of the character-sketches are as good as any published since, and far more distinctive than any photographic illustrations. Kenny Meadows, Birkett Foster, John Leech, Sir John Gilbert, Alfred Crowquill and their colleagues, employed by Herbert Ingram, were associated with writers already known, and the paper soon attained a large circulation. It was followed by The Pictorial Times and this, again, by many others; but chief among its surviving competitors are The Graphic, The Queen, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, The Field, The Sphere. The Graphic made a step in advance when it was supplemented by The Daily Graphic.