Elizabeth Mallet was an amazing lady, she published the first national daily paper in Britain, “The Daily Courant”, at her premises next to the King’s Arms tavern at Fleet Bridge, London in 1702.
Yes, it took a lady to launch our first daily newspaper!
OK, it was only one page long with a back page full of advertisements.
As an editor she was different, she only printed foreign news, with no comments from her, she said that her readers should have enough sense to decide for themselves. However, I think the real reason was that she didn’t want to get into trouble with the government.
This fascinating lady started by printing the speeches given by condemned prisoners before their execution at Tyburn, (it was a privilege offered, that many took), then, in 1701 she started a broad sheet The New State of Europe with sensational stories, this led her to launch The Daily Courant on 11 March 1702.
Interestingly, she sold it after only 40 days to Samuel Buckley. He followed her editorial policy or did he? As on 7th April 1712 he printed details of a debate in the House of Commons. Unfortunately, in those days you weren’t meant to tell people what went on in a parliamentary debate! Therefore, Samuel Buckley received a hefty fine. Were they right to prosecute him? I don’t think so, because Buckley quickly learnt, what all papers know today, that the fine was small in relation to the sales it generated!
The Daily Courant continued for a further 33 years under Buckley’s stewardship until it merged with the Daily Gazetteer in 1735. It was then renamed several times until its death in September 1797, 95 years after Elizabeth started it.
Elizabeth goes down in history as the first daily newspaper editor in the UK, also the first woman editor, even though they weren’t called that in those days. More interestingly, there is no doubt that she was the catalyst for a news revolution that 300 years later led to our addiction to 24-hour news.
Elizabeth Mallet was another extraordinary lady, in an age when women in business were discounted.
Isn’t History Fun!