Legislation, Literature, People and Print:
A Selected Timeline

  • 1790 Thomas Bewick publishes The General History of Quadrupeds using his "white-line" wood engraving techniques.
  • 1800 Most all paper made by hand.
  • 1802 The Society for the Suppression of Vice is formed to stop the dissemination of obscene publications.
  • 1804 The (Earl of) Stanhope press revolutionizes the printing press (whose form was nearly unchanged since Gutenberg) with the introduction of a cast-iron frame and lever printer.
  • 1807 Stereotyping allows Cambridge to reprint schoolbooks.
  • 1807 Argyll Music Rooms open.
  • 1807 Fourdrinier paper-making machine appears in a form that has changed only slightly since this time.
  • 1810 William Caslon's invention of sanspariel matrices for type.
  • 1813 Gaslights in use in Haymarket Theatre.
  • 1814 The steam press (though not adopted by all printers because of the cost) increases printmaking yield from 300 to 1100 copies an hour.
  • Early 1800s - the literary era of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats and Bryon.
  • 1832 The Penny Magazine from the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge features boxwood engraved illustrations.
  • 1832 Passage of Reform Act -- extending the vote to non-landed citizens. The lower classes are still excluded.
  • 1835 Edward Lloyd publishes inexpensive reading material as an alternative to expensive triple-decker novels.
  • 1835 George Cruikshank publishes satirical cartoons in Comic Almanack
  • 1836 Cruikshank illustrates Dickens' Sketches by Boz, which includes an engraving of "The Gin Shop."
  • 1836 Dickens' wildly popular serialized Pickwick Papers portends a revolution in (serial) fiction publication.
  • 1836 Reduction of stamp duty placed on newspapers (from 4d to 1d) to fight circulation of unstamped items.
  • 1837 Queen Victoria assumes the throne. She marries Albert in 1840.
  • 1839 Daguerreotype Photography.
  • 1839 Edward and George Dalziel form an engraving company. They are later joined by two other brothers, John and Thomas. The Dalziel Brothers produce both woodblocks and the illustrations on them, and employ other engravers such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais. They also aquire various periodicals over the coming decades.
  • 1840 Beginning of paper made from wood pulp, thereby reducing the cost of paper considerably.
  • 1840 Advent of adhesive penny stamps.
  • 1840s William Dugdale, in publishing for approximately 20 years, is recognized as the greatest publisher of obscenity in London.
  • 1840s Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens (7 Feb. 1812- 9 June 1870) are popular writers.
  • 1840 London has more than 1500 coffee houses where the working poor may buy and read penny publications.
  • 1842 First issue of Illustrated London News.
  • 1842 Edward Lloyd begins publication of Lloyd's Weekly Miscellany
  • 1845 Cremorne Gardens open.
  • 1845 G.W.M. Reynolds publishes The Mysteries of London, detailing the degraded lives of the poor.
  • 1846 First rotary press.
  • 1846 Brontë sisters first published.
  • 1847 The Communist Manifesto published.
  • 1848 Revolutions across Europe.
  • 1848 Louis-Napoléon returns to France from England and wins election to head the Second French Republic.
  • 1848 Founding of The Pre-Raphelite Brotherhood of poets, painters and illustrators.
  • 1849 Disraeli head of Conservative Party.
  • 1851 Louis-Napoléon stages a coup d'etat when he is not allowed to run for re-election and declares himself Emperor Napoléon III of France.
  • 1851 The "Bloomer Costume" offers an alternative to conventional women's dress. Bloomer-inspired clothing will not appear regularly until late in the century when women take up athletics such as bicycling or rowing.
  • 1853 The Crimean War (lasts until 1856.)
  • 1853 Gustave Doré commissioned to illustrate works by Lord Byron. Doré later illustrates the first edition of Poe's The Raven, as well as many of the best-loved titles in English literature. He also works for The Illustrated London News.
  • 1855 Repeal of stamp duty on newspapers, resulting in a massive increase in serial printing.
  • 1857 Obscene Publications Act. William Dugdale, publisher, is arrested in the same month the act is passed.
  • 1857 Advent of Matrimonial Causes Act, which gives women the right to sue for divorce through the courts in the case of adultery combined with either bigamy, cruelty, desertion or incest.
  • 1859 Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species By Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
  • 1860 Photo-lithography.
  • 1860s Wilkie Collins and Mary Braddock, among others, publish "sensational novels." Collins' Woman in White is considered the first of such fiction.
  • 1860 Stereo rotaries allow for large-forme magazine plates.
  • 1860s Large-scale adoption of mechanical typecasting.
  • William Morris founds a design firm dedicated to craftsmanship like that found in the work of medieval artisans. His and others' ideas are called "The Arts and Crafts Movement."
  • 1861 Repeal of Paper Duties, an excise tax on the production of paper.
  • 1861 Prince Albert dies after a visit to Bertie (Edward VII) concerning an indiscretion.
  • 1863 Edward VII, Prince of Wales, marries Princess Alexandra of Denmark and sets up residence at Marlborough House.
  • 1863 George Purkess (fils) founds Illustrated Police News.
  • 1864 Alhambra Theatre opens in the West End.
  • 1864 First Contagious Diseases Act, created to address rampant venereal disease in the armed forces. Only prostitutes are subject to this act, which denies them Habeas Corpus.
  • 1865 Mark Twain begins his publishing career.
  • 1865 Alice in Wonderland published with illustrations by John Tenniel.
  • 1866 Second Contagious Diseases Act allows the police to detain prostitutes for at least 3 months. Any women could be considered a prostitute and detained.
  • 1867 Second Reform Act gives the vote to more working men.
  • 1867 Ally Sloper cartoons begin.
  • 1867 Proposal to extend the Contagious Diseases Act to northern England's civilian population.
  • 1868-1874 Gladstone (Liberal Party) is Prime Minister of the UK.
  • 1868 Obscene Publications Act defined as applicable to work that would tend to corrupt those susceptible to immoral influences. The Act is used to deny information about contraception to the working classes.
  • 1869 Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Lady Byron Vindicated, first serialized in The Atlantic Monthly, in which she accuses Lord Byron of incest.
  • 1869 Third Contagious Diseases Act allows the police to detain prostitutes for one year.
  • 1869 Support for regulated prostitution stops the extension of this act to northern England.
  • 1869 Formation of The National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts and The Ladies' Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts, led by Josephine Butler. This association is also in response to the regulated prostitution supporters.
  • 1870 Napoléon III deposed. He dies in England in 1873
  • 1870-71 Arrest and trial of Boulton and Park.
  • 1871 Widespread use of mechanical wood pulp for paper in England.
  • 1870 Married Women's Property Act extends rights to women to keep a portion of their earnings.
  • 1870 The Mordaunt Divorce Case implicates Edward VII, heir to the throne, in adultery.
  • 1874-1880 Disraeli (Conservative Party) is Prime Minister of England.
  • 1874 Prince Albert (Duke of Edinburgh) marries.
  • 1876 Balham Murder.
  • 1877 Penge Murder.
  • 1877 Victoria proclaimed Empress of India.
  • 1877 Bradlaugh-Besant trial for publishing Charles Knowlton's Fruits of Philosophy. The case is thrown out due to a technical issue.
  • 1878 Madame Rachael sentenced to five years in prison, but dies in 1880.
  • 1878 The "Euston Square" murder trial results in no conviction for Hannah Dobbs concerning the murder of Miss Hacker.
  • 1878 The last of Marie Duval's signed Ally Sloper illustrations.
  • 1878 Argyll Music Rooms close.
  • 1879 Josephine Butler publishes Social Purity
  • 1879 Zulu wars.
  • 1880 Liberals regain parliament. The Marquis of Hartington requests that Gladstone serve as Prime Minister again. Sir Charles Dilke serves as President of the Local Government Board. He is widely assumed to be Gladstone's replacement in future elections.
  • 1880 The Rational Dress Society founded to promote sensible clothing rather than tightlaced corsets and heavy skirts.
  • 1881 Mother Shipton's date for the end of the world.
  • 1882 Zulu King Cetshwayo becomes the first Zulu to visit England.
  • 1883 Widespread manufacture of chemical wood pulp paper in England.
  • 1884 Reform Act. This third enfranchisement extends the vote to most working men.
  • 1886 With the encouragement of Josephine Butler, W.T. Stead investigates and publishes articles on child prostitution and trafficking in the Pall Mall Gazette
  • 1886 Repeal of The Contagious Diseases Acts.
  • 1886 The Crawford Divorce case ruins Dilke's political career.
  • 1887 Oscar Wilde writes reviews at the Pall Mall Gazette for the next two years.
  • 1888 Jack the Ripper murders.
  • 1890 and into the early 20th Century. Height of the Art Nouveau style in illustration.
  • 1891 Publication of an English translation of Engels' The Condition of the Working Class in England.
  • 1891 William Morris initiates The Kelmscott Press in response to mass production.
  • 1893 Aubrey Beardsley illustrates Oscar Wilde's play, Salome.
  • 1894 Oscar Wilde's series of trials ends in a conviction of gross indecency.
  • 1900 Only 1% of paper made by hand.
  • 1901 Death of Queen Victoria.