4 May: Debut of the Daily Mail

As British literacy rates surged to a new high of 97%, the time was right to launch a simpler, shorter, more readable newspaper – and Alfred Harmsworth’s Daily Mail caught the zeitgeist when it hit the news-stands (at the eye-catching price of just half a penny) on 4th May, 1896.

The new paper attracted half a million daily readers by the end of the century, drawn in by its American-inspired mix of provocative political commentary, human interest and sentiment.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how the Mail innovated faster national and international distribution; chart Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe)’s progress to becoming the Rupert Murdoch of his day; and explain how, by the 1930s, this very British institution was championing Hitler…

Further Reading:

• The Daily Mail – First Edition (Associated Newspapers, 1896):


• ‘Lord Northcliffe – The Press baron at the heart of World War One’ (Cardiff University, 2016): https://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/musicresearch/lord-northcliffe-the-press-baron-at-the-heart-of-world-war-one/

• ‘Prime Ministers and Press Barons: Lord Northcliffe’ (BBC, 2008):