Illustrated London News founder Herbert Ingram was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, in 1811, and opened a printing, newsagent and bookselling business in Nottingham around 1834 in partnership with his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Cooke. As a newsagent, Ingram was struck by the reliable increase in newspaper sales when they featured pictures and shocking stories. Ingram began to plan a weekly newspaper that would contain pictures in every edition.
Ingram rented an office, recruited artists and reporters, and employed as his editor Frederick William Naylor Bayley (18081853), formerly editor of the National Omnibus. The first issue of The Illustrated London News appeared on Saturday, 14 May 1842, timed to report on the young Queen Victoria's first masquerade ball. Its 16 pages and 32 wood engravings covered topics such as the war in Afghanistan, a train crash in France, a survey of the candidates for the US presidential election, extensive crime reports, theatre and book reviews, and a list of births, marriages and deaths. Ingram hired 200 men to carry placards through the streets of London promoting the first edition of his new newspaper.
Costing sixpence, the first issue sold 26,000 copies. Despite this initial success, sales of the second and subsequent editions were disappointing. However, Ingram was determined to make his newspaper a success, and sent every clergyman in the country a copy of the edition which contained illustrations of the installation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and by this means secured a great many new subscribers.
Its circulation soon increased to 40,000 and by the end of its first year was 60,000. In 1851, after the newspaper published Joseph Paxton's designs for the Crystal Palace before even Prince Albert had seen them, the circulation rose to 130,000. In 1852, when it produced a special edition covering the funeral of the Duke of Wellington, sales increased to 150,000; and in 1855, mainly due to the newspaper reproducing some of Roger Fenton's pioneering photographs of the Crimean War (and also due to the abolition of the Stamp Act that taxed newspapers), it sold 200,000 copies per week.
Competitors soon began to appear: Lloyds Illustrated Paper was founded later that year, while Reynold's Newspaper'' opened in 1850; both were successful Victorian publications, albeit less successful than The Illustrated London News. Andrew Spottiswoode's Pictorial Times lost 20,000 before it was sold to Ingram by Henry Vizetelly, who had left the ILN to found it. Ingram folded it into another purchase, The Lady's Newspaper, which became The Lady's Newspaper and Pictorial Times. Vitezelly was also behind a later competitor, The Illustrated Times in 1855, which was similarly bought out by Ingram in 1859.
Ingram's other early collaborators left the business in the 1850s. Nathanial Cooke, his business partner and brother-in-law, found himself in a subordinate role in the business and parted on bad terms around 1854. 1858 saw the departure of William Little, who, in addition to providing a loan of 10,000, was printer and publisher of the paper for 15 years. Little's relationship with Ingram deteriorated over Ingram's harassment of their mutual sister-in-law.
Herbert Ingram died on 8 September 1860 in a paddle-steamer accident on Lake Michigan, and he was succeeded as proprietor by his youngest son, William, who in turn was succeeded by his son, Sir Bruce Ingram (18771963) in 1900, who remained as editor until his death.