Dr Bob Nicholson Profile picture
Apr 30, 2020 16 tweets 7 min read Read on X
I’ll just leave this spin-off thread about a bad Daily Mail reproduction here, so that all of my ranting about anachronistic newspaper props is in one place. https://t.co/C8hpWVMIp2
As ever, if *YOU* spot a historical newspaper prop in a film, tv show, game, etc, then please send it my way and I’ll dissect it here in tedious detail.
I swore I'd stop banging on about the misrepresentation of newspapers in historical dramas, but then THIS happened in #EnolaHolmes, and here we are again. Image
The Pall Mall Gazette — a real Victorian newspaper with a fascinating history — crops up several times in #EnolaHolmes. Here's what the paper looked like at this time.

They got the masthead and back page of adverts spot on, but... Image
...the front pages are baaaaaaad. Really bad. ImageImage
The Pall Mall Gazette was an evening paper with a different format to many of the morning papers I've posted in this thread. Unlike, say, The Times, the PMG *did* print news on its front page instead of adverts — so it's not *entirely* wrong to see it here in #EnolaHolmes. ImageImage
As I mentioned near the start of this thread, the Pall Mall Gazette — under the maverick editorship of W. T. Stead — was also experimenting with typography & headlines in the 1880s. But this famous headline from 1885 was BIG for the time! Image
So, while the massive font and egregious use of italics is totally out of step with the Pall Mall Gazette and other Victorian papers, I guess a generous interpretation would say that it was still kinda in the *spirit* of Stead's experimental and sensationalist journalism. Image
Unlike morning papers, the Pall Mall Gazette also made sparing use of simple images — though not on the front page like the prop in the film. Detailed front-page images like this were chiefly limited to weekly newspapers (who had longer to produce them as a result). ImageImage
The film also gives us a good look at the inside of the paper, and again it's a mixed bag of material lifted directly from the real PMG (all fine) and additional stuff grafted awkwardly on top to serve the plot. ImageImage
At one point, the inside of the Pall Mall Gazette randomly does an impersonation of The Times' personal adverts page.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Image
Actually, sorry, it does that *twice*. Image
On the plus side, it looks like they've got the size of the paper roughly correct. The PMG was much smaller than a morning broadsheet. I can't check for sure without googling the length of Henry Cavil's fingers, and today is not that day. Image
The morning newspapers in the rack at the back of the reading room are alright too — look at the size of those bad boys! Image
Alright, I think I'm done for now. None of this, of course, is a meaningful criticism of the film, which I'm looking forward to watching properly later, instead of obsessively scrubbing through it looking for newspapers.

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More from @DigiVictorian

Sep 18, 2022
In 1892, Answers magazine ran a competition inviting readers to explain the things that would make them happy. Lot of people dreamed of money and a country estate, but not this girl...
Pity the 'little wife' who gets trapped in this man's fantasy
This is my favourite entry:
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Jun 22, 2022
In 1892, Answers magazine published an article predicting what the news would be like in a hundred years's time. Let's see how the Victorians imagined the 90s...

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Firstly, they accurately predicted the arrival of broadcast news! Or, at least, that it would be 'read out' to audiences thanks to the perfection of Edison's phonograph.
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Their prediction about commercially saleable weather is perhaps still a *bit* sci-fi, but they were right about Britain adopting the decimal system. For now, at least. 🙄
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Nov 17, 2021
A quick digital research tutorial!

All of @galecengage's newspaper archives — e.g. The Times, Daily Mail, British Library Newspapers — have a built-in 'Term Frequency' search tool. You can access it at the foot of the archive's home page. /1
This allows us to 'distant read' the archive by graphing how often a particular word or phrase appeared each year. It's similar to google's ngram tool (books.google.com/ngrams) but for newspapers! /2
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Mar 3, 2021
In 1891, the Illustrated Police News published these reactionary cartoons bemoaning what they regarded as women's growing power to accuse men of sexual/romantic misconduct. There are striking parallels here with more recent responses to movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp.
This panel, for instance, ridicules the idea of men being publicly shamed by women.
These panels remind me of men who now say things like, "you know, you can't even LOOK at a woman in public these days without being ACCUSED of something."
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Mar 3, 2021
When notable Victorian murderers were sent to the gallows, the Illustrated Police News often printed vivid front-page illustrations imagining their tortured dreams on 'the night before the execution.'

Kate Webster was a maid who murdered & dismembered her mistress.

The imagined dreams of Charles Peace — infamous Victorian burglar and murderer — on the night before his execution.

— Illustrated Police News (1879)
Another set of pre-execution dreams, this time attributed to Percy Lefroy Mapleton, who robbed and murdered a coin dealer named Isaac Gold on the London to Brighton train.
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Feb 28, 2021
Spring is in the air, and I'm reading a Victorian newspaper devoted to adultery. Here, a 'guilty pair' of lovers are spotted playing a red-hot game of whist!

- The Crim-Con Gazette (1839) Image
My favourite thing about these illustrations is always the face of the person observing the adulterers... Image
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