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Lloyd, Edwardlocked

  • Rohan McWilliam

Lloyd, Edward (1815–1890), publisher and newspaper proprietor, was born on 16 February 1815 in Thornton Heath, Surrey, the son of a Welsh labourer who died in Lloyd's infancy. After a brief elementary education, he worked in a solicitor's office and studied shorthand at the London Mechanics' Institution, winning a silver pen for being first in his class. By the time he was eighteen he had written Lloyd's Stenography (1833) and opened shops in London selling comic valentines and penny story books.

Beginning with The Calendar of Horrors (1835), Lloyd launched himself into a career as a leading publisher of cheap and mostly sensational literature aimed at the working class. Among these were a series of plagiarisms of the work of Charles Dickens that included Nikelas Nickelbery (1838), Oliver Twiss (1838–9), and The Penny Pickwick (1837–9); the latter apparently enjoyed sales of 50,000 copies. He also started a series of periodicals mainly containing popular fiction which included Lloyd's Penny Weekly Miscellany (1842–7) and Lloyd's Penny Atlas (1842–5). In addition, he published songbooks and treatises on domestic economy. In September 1843 he moved his offices to 12 Salisbury Square, near Fleet Street, which became the centre of his ‘penny dreadful’ publishing industry. He was responsible for stories such as James Malcolm Rymer's Varney the Vampire (1845) and 'The String of Pearls' (1846) (published in Lloyd's People's Periodical and Family Library and usually attributed to Thomas Peckett Prest), which introduced the character of Sweeney Todd. G. A. Sala remembered that Lloyd's instructions to his illustrators were 'there must be more blood—much more blood' (G. A. Sala, The Life and Adventures of George Augustus Sala, 1875, 1.209).

Lloyd also moved into journalism, publishing Lloyd's Illustrated London Newspaper for a penny in September 1842 as a rival to the Illustrated London News. The paper was originally unstamped but was compelled by the stamp office to pay the duty, as the paper contained news. It was then relaunched on 27 November price 2d. In 1843 the paper became Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper, which was to last until 1931, one of the most successful newspapers of the Victorian period and the first of the cheap Sunday newspapers aimed at the working class. By 1850 the paper was selling 49,000 copies a week. The politics of the paper were Liberal to radical, though not as extreme as those of a number of its competitors. Lloyd became increasingly concerned about the respectability of his publications, a move signalled by his abandonment of ‘penny dreadfuls’ in the early 1850s and the appointment in 1852 of the popular writer Douglas Jerrold (1803–1857) as editor of Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper. Circulation rose thereafter. By 1853 the paper was selling 90,000 copies to a lower-middle-class and working-class readership, particularly in London, although the paper was distributed throughout the country and abroad; it enjoyed a strong following among women and small property owners. The abolition of the stamp and paper duties allowed for a reduction in price to 1d. in 1861. By 1872 the paper was selling half a million copies. Lloyd was devoted to publicity, scouring the country for hoardings to advertise his paper. At one time, he paid his staff with coins on which his newspaper's name was embossed so that they would enter the currency; he was only stopped by government intervention.

To sustain his popular publications, Lloyd was active in promoting new publishing techniques. In 1856 he introduced Hoe's rotary press into Britain and the web press in 1873. He established a paper mill at Bow in 1861 and a second in 1877 at Sittingbourne in Kent. To supply his mills, he leased 100,000 acres in Algeria to grow esparto grass. Lloyd found himself supplying other newspapers as well as his own with paper and became the owner of a lucrative stationery business.

In 1876 Lloyd purchased the Daily Chronicle (formerly the Clerkenwell News) for £30,000, on which he spent £150,000, transforming it from a suburban paper into a leading London daily paper with special correspondents all over the world. The paper in particular advocated the unification of London local government to restore order to its affairs. Circulation soon increased from 8000 to 140,000 copies.

Lloyd was a leading Liberal, elected to the Reform Club and a promoter of the National Liberal Club. Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper mainly supported Liberal causes, such as the extension of the suffrage in 1867. Although it opposed home rule in 1886, it tended to support Gladstone. The paper's politics were always moderate, which meant that it was often disliked by radicals. Such was its appeal that when a young singer called Matilda Alice Victoria Wood sought a memorable stage name she called herself Marie Lloyd. By the time of Lloyd's death in 1890 the paper was in sight of achieving sales of 1 million, a feat it accomplished on 16 February 1896, the first paper ever to do so.

Lloyd was married twice, the second time to Maria Martins. He had nineteen children in total, among them Frank Lloyd (1854–1927), who became chairman and managing director of his father's company on his death. Edward Lloyd died on 8 April 1890 at his home, 17 Delahay Street, Westminster. The cause of death was heart disease, apparently brought on by the strain of revamping his newspaper. He was buried in Highgate cemetery on 11 April, and a plaque was placed in St Margaret's Church, Westminster. One of the leading figures in the expansion of mass publishing in the Victorian period, Lloyd's career is important because of its promotion of the cheap press, new techniques in publishing, and the basic formulae which came to be associated with popular fiction and journalism (with its taste for the sensational).


  • V. S. Berridge, ‘Popular journalism and working-class attitudes, 1854–1886: a study of Reynolds's Newspaper, Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper and The Weekly Times’, DPhil diss., U. Lond., 1976
  • T. Catling, My life's pilgrimage (1911)
  • J. Medcraft, A bibliography of the penny bloods of Edward Lloyd (1911)
  • Daily Chronicle [London] (9 April 1890), 5
  • Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper (13 April 1890), 7
  • British and Colonial Printer and Stationer (17 April 1890), 1–2
  • The Times (9 April 1890), 5
  • [E. Lloyd], A glimpse into papermaking and journalism (1895)
  • T. Frost, Forty years' recollections: literary and political (1880)
  • J. Hatton, Journalistic London (1882)
  • P. R. Hoggart, ‘Edward Lloyd, the father of the cheap press’, The Dickensian, 80 (1984), 33–8
  • L. James, Fiction for the working man, 1830–1850 (1963)


  • T. Fall of Baker Street, photograph, repro. in ILN (19 April 1890), 486
  • Fradelle and Young, photograph, repro. in British and Colonial Printer and Stationer, 1

Wealth at Death

£565,240 1s. 6d.: resworn probate, Aug 1891, CGPLA Eng. & Wales (1890)