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The Newspaper Arrives

The outbreak of the pan-European Thirty Years’ War  in 1618  created an insatiable demand in England for news from the Continent. Two enterprising English publishers, Nathaniel Butter and Nicholas Bourne, soon dominated the news market. By 1642, with the breakdown of state control over the printing presses due to the English Civil Wars (1642–1651), newspapers like A Perfect Diurnall began to print domestic as well as foreign news. This signified the advent of the weekly newspaper.

Perfect diurnall of the passages in Parliament. London, 1642

The advent of the coranto fundamentally changed the way many newsletter writers operated. While pages of news were once laboriously copied by hand, printed news made the spread and the consumption of news much more common.


The most important news of the week served as the title for these early corantos. But in 1632, the government of Charles I banned the publication of corantos. However, fearful of losing a propaganda opportunity, in 1638 the Crown licensed the publishers Nathaniel Butter and Nicholas Bourne to produce newsbooks of foreign affairs, subject to government scrutiny before publication. In an epistle to coranto readers, Butter and Bourne informed their reading public that they could look forward to a resumption of frequent news reports.


Although Nathaniel Butter was imprisoned in August 1627as a result of the government’s increasingly hostile attitude towards news publication, he continued to publish corantos. Though still not completely standardized, the title pages were updated to reflect the exact dates of the news included in the issue, and included the phrase, “the continuation of our weekly news.”


Making further strides, and unlike previous news printers who primarily translated foreign news, Samuel Pecke—considered the first English journalist—cultivated his own sources of information and published domestic news gleaned from the proceedings in Parliament. A Perfect Diurnall, published weekly from 1642 through 1655, quickly spawned imitators.





May 26, 1623. Numb. 33. A relation of Count Mansfeilds last proceedings. London, 1623

A true report of all the speciall passages of note lately happened in the Ile of Ree. London, 1627

Nouvelles Ordinaires du dernier Decembre 1639. Paris, 1639

Number. 1. An abstract of some specially forreigne occurrences, brought down to the weekly newes. London, 1638

Exhibition Highlights

Experiments in Printed News

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The First Journalist

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