Westminster Gazette
The Westminster Gazette was an influential Liberal
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

 based in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. It was known for publishing sketches and short stories, including early works by Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler
Raymond Thornton Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter.In 1932, at age forty-five, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in...

, Anthony Hope
Anthony Hope
Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins, better known as Anthony Hope , was an English novelist and playwright. Although he was a prolific writer, especially of adventure novels, he is remembered best for only two books: The Prisoner of Zenda and its sequel Rupert of Hentzau...

 and Saki
Hector Hugh Munro , better known by the pen name Saki, and also frequently as H. H. Munro, was a British writer whose witty, mischievous and sometimes macabre stories satirised Edwardian society and culture. He is considered a master of the short story and often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy...

, and travel writing by Rupert Brooke
Rupert Brooke
Rupert Chawner Brooke was an English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War, especially The Soldier...

. One of its editors was caricaturist and political cartoonist Francis Carruthers Gould
Francis Carruthers Gould
Francis Carruthers Gould , British caricaturist and political cartoonist, was born in Barnstaple, Devon. He published as F...


The paper was started by E. T. Cook
E. T. Cook
Edgar Thomas Cook CBE D.Mus. FRCO FRCM was an English organist and composer .Edgar Cook was born in Worcester. He was sent to the Royal Grammar School Worcester and began his career as a church organist in 1898. In 1904 he became assistant organist of Worcester Cathedral under Sir Ivor Atkins...

 on January 31, 1893. Cook served as editor until 1896, when he resigned his position to take over as editor of the Liberal Daily News
Daily News (UK)
The Daily News was a national daily newspaper in the United Kingdom.The News was founded in 1846 by Charles Dickens, who also served as the newspaper's first editor. It was conceived as a radical rival to the right-wing Morning Chronicle. The paper was not at first a commercial success...

. Though a number of prominent individuals applied to succeed him, the owner of the Westminster Gazette, George Newnes
George Newnes
Sir George Newnes, 1st Baronet was a publisher and editor in England.-Background and education:...

, decided to offer the editorship to J. A. Spender, then only thirty-three years of age. Though Spender himself was modest about his prospects, his selection was met with approval by many in the Liberal ranks, including the head of the party Lord Rosebery
Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery
Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, KG, PC was a British Liberal statesman and Prime Minister. Between the death of his father, in 1851, and the death of his grandfather, the 4th Earl, in 1868, he was known by the courtesy title of Lord Dalmeny.Rosebery was a Liberal Imperialist who...


Under Spender's direction, the Westminster Gazette became a "clubland paper" whose target reader was a gentleman relaxing in his club between work and the night's social events. As such it had a tiny market, with circulations on a scale that modern-day political blogs might hope to exceed. The 1949 Royal Commission on the Press estimates that a typical clubland paper sold "about 5,000" a day in the 19th century; the newspaper designer and historian Allen Hutt suggests "an average of no more than around 20,000 at best". Like political blogs, clubland papers could rely on the amplifying effect of a link economy. In The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain, Stephen Koss puts it from the point of view of Spender: "The stature of a journal was measured by the gratitude it received from those whom it praised, the resentment it incurred from those whom it censured, and 'above all' – according to J.A. Spender – by the number of lesser journals that duplicated its contents."

This link economy brought the Westminster a reputation in some circles as "the most powerful paper in Britain". It didn't bring money: the paper never turned a profit in three decades of existence. The veteran editor Frederick Greenwood
Frederick Greenwood
Frederick Greenwood , was an English journalist, editor, and man of letters.-Early years:He was one of three brothers — the others being James and Charles — who all gained reputation as journalists. Frederick started life in a printing house, but at an early age began to write in periodicals...

 regarded the Westminster Gazette under Spender as "the best edited paper in London," and it became essential reading for politicians on both sides of the political aisle. The paper's priority was Liberal unity. It balanced ideological expression, avoiding the polemical heights attained by other Liberal publications. Though this occasionally earned Spender the ire of both Liberal factions in a debate, his loyalty to the Liberal leadership was rewarded with their confidences, which provided him with invaluable insight into the inner workings of contemporary politics.

Spender greatly valued his editorial independence, which was never an issue with the Gazettes owner, George Newnes. When Newnes sold the paper in 1908 to a consortium of Liberal businessmen and politicians led by Alfred Mond
Alfred Mond, 1st Baron Melchett
Alfred Moritz Mond, 1st Baron Melchett PC, FRS , known as Sir Alfred Mond, Bt, between 1910 and 1928, was a British industrialist, financier and politician...

, however, Spender found his cherished independence under pressure. Only internal disagreement within the ownership group saved Spender from dismissal. The dispute hurt staff morale, while the start of the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 led several important staff members to leave for service in the armed forces.

A growing decline in circulation and revenue led Spender and the owners to undertake the radical move of switching from an evening to a morning publication in November 1921. Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray
Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray
Weetman Dickinson Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray GCVO, PC , known as Sir Weetman Pearson, Bt, between 1894 and 1910 and as The Lord Cowdray between 1910 and 1917, was a British engineer, oil industrialist, benefactor and Liberal politician...

 who was the title's lead shareholder at the time, carried through a plan to relaunch the Westminster as a national morning paper of less exalted character. The new paper, however, was no longer a vehicle for the sort of reflective journalism characteristic of Spender, and he resigned from his position in February 1922. Lord Northcliffe, whose London Evening News was the capital's bestseller in the early 1920s, described the new Westminster as "about as good as my first oil-well and pipeline establishment would be", and condemning it for "ignorance, provincialism, extravagance, mismanagement and muddle". Less partisan observers were not much kinder.

By 1925 the new-look Westminster Gazette claimed daily sales of 250,000 – and weekly losses of £2,000. It was merged into its leading Liberal rival, Daily News on February 1, 1928.


1893: Edward Tyas Cook
Edward Tyas Cook
Sir Edward Tyas Cook was an English journalist, biographer, and man of letters.-Biography:Born in Brighton, Cook was the youngest son of Silas Kemball Cook, secretary of the Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich, and his wife, Emily, née Archer...

1896: J. A. Spender
John Alfred Spender
John Alfred Spender was a British journalist, newspaper editor, and author. He is best known for serving as the editor of the London newspaper the Westminster Gazette from 1896 until 1922.-Life:...

1921: J. B. Hobman
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