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The John Rylands Research Institute


Andrew Hobbs: The Weekly Express (1860-63): The Manchester Guardian’s failed attempt at New Journalism

In January 1860 the Manchester Guardian announced a ‘New Weekly Liberal Paper’, the Manchester Weekly Guardian & Express, at twopence. It aimed to be a ‘first-rate family paper, fit for every home; in which – in addition to a copious record of passing events – a large amount of space will be devoted to the art, science, and literature of the day’ with ‘a thoroughly local character, whilst paying due attention to all general and political news.’ Its politics were to be ‘those sound and constitutionally liberal principles’ of the Guardian. The daily paper was imitating what its rival the Manchester Examiner had already done with its sister paper the Manchester Weekly Times, in launching a more popular weekly stablemate, aimed at working-class readers; other provincial mornings such as the Liverpool Daily Post had also done the same. However, the Weekly Express survived for only three years, before closing in January 1863.

This paper analyses the Guardian’s failed attempt at a more populist publishing genre, the weekly news-miscellany, in comparison with its successful rival, the Manchester Times, to draw conclusions about the Guardian’s attitude to New Journalism and its competition with the more radical Manchester Examiner. This placing of the Manchester Guardian within the wider ecology of Manchester newspaper publishing can help us to define the Guardian’s distinctive character more precisely.

Graham Snowdon: ‘A Window on the Wider World’: The Guardian Weekly newspaper, from 1919 to the present day

It is apt that the first edition of the Guardian Weekly should have been launched in the summer of 1919. It came off the presses a week after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. In Europe and beyond, a new social and political order was emerging. The Manchester Guardian viewed itself as a leading liberal voice and wanted to extend its reach, particularly in the US.

The aim of this new international weekly was to present ‘what is best and most interesting in the Guardian, what is most distinctive and independent of time, in a compact form’. Initial reception was good with most of the sales in America. Before long the Manchester Guardian could boast ‘there is scarcely a corner of the civilised world to which it is not being posted regularly’.

The Weekly’s archive chronicles such details as the names of former editors – typically correspondents who had returned to Manchester from foreign postings. There are tales of the ingenious ways copy found its way to print sites in Lancashire, Toronto, Sydney, parts of the US and (after the second world war) Hamburg.

The Weekly’s premise endures, though much else has changed. From the addition of Le Monde and Washington Post articles, to changing formats, colour printing, the creation of a digital edition, an editor’s blog and interactive elements, Weekly has kept pace. With readers in more than 170 countries, the ‘civilised world’ remains informed.
As Weekly nears 100, this paper will look back over its history, development and impact.

Richard Nelsson: Maintaining the Memory: A brief history of the Guardian Library

When Geoffrey Whatmore, the Manchester Guardian's newly appointed librarian arrived at the Cross Street office in 1951, he found a system little changed since the days of C.P. Scott - an archaic collection of press cuttings, index cards and a locked bookcase. Over the next few years he set about creating a modern news information service, even persuading management to install a telephone in the library. The department no doubt provided background material for Alphabetical Order, Michael Frayn's celebrated 1975 play about a newspaper library.

This paper will chart the history of the library, primarily in the 20th century, and the contribution it has made to the paper's journalism. In the pre-internet days, news libraries consisted mainly of press cuttings with writers not only relying on librarians’ fact-checking skills, but also their encyclopaedic knowledge to point them in the right direction, remember stories, make suggestions etc .

Following the 1964 move to London, a new collection was started in the capital which soon overtook Manchester's in size. In the early 1980s the chief librarian, Helen Martin, spotted the potential of online text databases (initially seen as a threat to jobs, the first terminal was installed in a neutral space by the editor's office), and a decade later, the internet.

The library is now involved primarily with research. It also manages the Guardian/Observer digital archive, generating daily ‘from the archive’ pieces as well as producing books and other content related to the paper’s history.

Stéphanie Prévost: Liberal Humanitarianism and Party Politics: C.P. Scott’s coverage of the Armenian Question (1893-8)

C.P. Scott was offered a silver inkstand and two pens by the Armenian Nation in 1921 to thank him for his long-term commitment in the Armenian question. As the Liberal Daily News, The Manchester Guardian had paid considerable attention to the lot of Ottoman Christians since the 1876 Bulgarian atrocities onwards and Gladstone’s assumed leadership of the protest movement late in that year. The Eastern Question, especially in the shape of the struggle for equality of Ottoman Christians, then became a federating cause for the Liberal Party.

Recent scholarship tends to challenge one of R.T. Shannon’s conclusions in his Gladstone and the Bulgarian Agitation 1876 (1963) that the Eastern Question only operated a temporary disruption of British politics that ceased with Disraeli’s death in 1881, since Gladstone then lacked a sparring rival. Dackombe and Perkins have recently shown that some Liberals were still concerned by the lot of Ottoman Christians in the early 20th century, without being able to account for the continuity.

My own work has led me to posit that Gladstonian Christian moralism was remodelled at the time of the Armenian massacres of the 1890s when defence of Ottoman Armenians was presented by some Liberals (in particular Malcom MacColl) as above party politics and of national interest (which had to be encouraged and shaped through protest movements).

This paper will thus look at how C.P. Scott’s coverage of the Armenian Question (1893-1898) exemplifies this understanding of Liberal humanitarianism at a time when the Liberal party seemed to fall apart over Rosebery’s 1896 resignation from the leadership of the Party. Guardian and Observer editorials will be analysed and put into perspective with C.P. Scott’s general and editorial correspondence for the years 1893-8, also to assess the role of the newspaper and Scott in the shaping of public opinion over the Armenian Question.

Joanne Laycock: Liberal Humanitarianism and its Limits: The ‘Armenian Question’ and the Manchester Guardian

Over the course of the First World War and in its immediate aftermath, the Manchester Guardian played an important role in revealing the treatment of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire to the British public. Morgan Philips Price, acting as the newspaper’s ‘special correspondent’ was, for example, the only British journalist present on the Caucasus front and able to provide details of the complex patterns of violence against civilians in the Ottoman/Russian borderlands.

The majority of research on international press coverage of the Armenian Genocide has thus far tended to either collate newspaper reports as ‘evidence’ to counter both Turkish denial and international non-recognition of the fate of the Armenians as ‘Genocide’. In this paper, in contrast, I focus on the Manchester Guardian’s coverage of the massacre and deportation of the Armenian population in order to examine the nature and dynamics of Liberal political and humanitarian networks during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The British ‘Armenophile’ networks which emerged from the politics of the ‘Eastern Question’ during the late nineteenth century closely intersected with the Liberal circles around C. P. Scott and the Manchester Guardian. The paper explores the ways in which ‘Armenophile’ networks engaged with the newspaper in order to present the fate of the Armenians as an emblematic liberal cause in the late nineteenth century. It considers the ways in which these representations were transformed in the context of the First World War and the Armenian Genocide, and how and why they slipped from the public agenda in the years that followed.

Rebecca Gill: The Manchester Guardian, ‘liberal internationalism’, and the lessons of the Boer War

With war clouds gathering in the summer of 1914, the Manchester Guardian spoke for peace and non-intervention. But when Britain declared war on Germany, C.P. Scott decided to back the British government and brought his friend and Manchester Guardian leader-writer L.T. Hobhouse with him. ‘We have lost the Guardian’ bewailed the exasperated Emily Hobhouse, L.T. Hobhouse’s sister and a prominent pacifist. Fifteen years earlier, C.P. Scott and L.T. Hobhouse had galvanised a northern ‘pro-Boer’ campaign led by the Manchester Transvaal Committee in opposition to Britain’s war in South Africa. In London, Emily Hobhouse had organised a similar protest, and would later use the pages of the Manchester Guardian to publicise her reports of destitution among Boer women and children in the concentration camps. Letters to her brother called frequently for a ‘paragraph in the Guardian’. In this paper, I wish to explore the role of the Manchester Guardian in the movement to oppose the Boer War, looking at the lobbying of C.P. Scott, L.T. Hobhouse and members of their circle, and at the newspaper’s coverage of Emily Hobhouse’s findings in South Africa. Piecing together the recently-deposited Emily Hobhouse letters in the Bodleian Library with items in the Manchester Guardian archive at the John Rylands Library, I want to find out why the old alliances of the ‘pro-Boer’ days re-grouped and fragmented when faced by war with Germany, and will pay particular attention to how the lessons of opposition to the Boer War were discussed and acted upon in 1914.

Jonathan Westaway: Envisioning Switzerland in the Manchester Guardian, 1890-1925: C.E. Montague, British mountaineering and the Swiss tourist industry

Charles Montague was the chief leader writer on the Manchester Guardian for much of the period 1890-1914. In his leader columns Montague promoted sport, leisure, recreation and tourism. As a mountaineer, Montague spent many of his holidays in alpine Switzerland, where he became a keen observer and critic of the mountaineering tourist, applying New Liberal social theories to the emerging outdoor movement in both Britain and Europe. Montague’s theories exemplified key aspects of liberal governmentality, where bourgeois notions of stewardship attempted to mediate between the demands for access and preservation, development and exclusivity. The preeminence of Switzerland as a cultural landscape and its highly developed tourist economy illustrated to Montague the potentially negative effects of mass tourism. At the same time, Montague rejected much of the bourgeois-romantic ‘anti-tourism’ endemic amongst upper-middle class British mountaineers, poking fun at elite self-conceptions, repositioning mountaineers’ notions of themselves as cultivated excursionists and travellers, placing them firmly within the genus ‘tourist’. Addressing a regional and national British mountaineering audience, Montague attempted to both celebrate and critique British mountaineering achievements, assumptions and behaviour in Switzerland, using Switzerland as a prism through which to understand the emerging outdoor movement in Britain. Switzerland remained an idealized mountain landscape for British mountaineers but also served as a salutary reminder that vigilance and self-regulation were required to preserve landscape amenity and values. Envisioning Switzerland formed part of an excursive strategy for Montague, in which real and imagined journeys to Switzerland served to return his readers to a deepened understanding of their own regional geographies and responsibilities.

Daphna Baram: What is The Guardian’s ‘Heretofore’ on Zionism: How C.P. Scott’s legacy was interpreted by his successors

Ever since his death, C.P. Scott’s successors have aimed to fulfil the one instruction they were traditionally given upon their nomination: to carry out the newspaper’s tradition ‘in the same spirit as heretofore’. This directive has always been trying in the context of the Guardian’s coverage of Zionism. In my paper, based on my book Disenchantment, The Guardian and Israel, I would like to demonstrate how, whilst the line and focus of the coverage changed over the years, the core of the Guardian’s stance on Israel remained that of supporting the Zionist movement whilst championing its more liberal wings. This, I argue, is the Guardian’s heretofore on Zionism. The paper will discuss the way in which Scott’s immediate editorial successors (W.P. Crozier, A.P. Wadsworth and Alastair Hetherington) interpreted their inherited mission. Focusing on the editors who covered Zionist Israel up until its creation and through the early years would demonstrate that not all the tension between the Guardian and Israel derived from the occupation of 1967. The ambivalence of the three editors - from Crozier’s direct collaboration with the Jewish Agency, through Wadsworth’s pioneered condemnation of the young state, to Hetherington’s Diplomatic enterprises alongside criticism of the Suez Campaign – stemmed from the emerging realities in the Middle East and the changes in visibility of the Arab players.

However, each editor also acted on his own personal inclinations and professional beliefs. I will aim to demonstrate that, despite all those changes, the Guardian adhered, as it keeps doing to the day, to a policy that supports Zionism whilst championing its more liberal representations.

Tom Collins: Alastair Hetherington: The Guardian Years

Alastair Hetherington was Guardian Editor from 1956 to 1975, during which time the paper made its historic move from Manchester to London. Hetherington’s editorship was defined within weeks of him taking over by the paper’s lone but determined opposition to the Anglo-French invasion of Suez. His stand lost the paper readers and advertising income, but it reinforced the Guardian’s reputation as an independent and principled voice on the liberal left. Hetherington twice helped save the paper from a merger with The Times during his term of office; he struggled to keep the paper afloat as television sucked up advertising revenues; and he led the resistance of national newspaper editors to closed shop legislation in the 1970s which threatened to compromise their editorial independence.

The paper draws on on-going research on Hetherington’s papers in the archives at the University of Stirling, the London School of Economics and the Guardian. It will look at Hetherington’s role in establishing Die Welt after the Second World War and his battle with the British government to hand editorial responsibility over to German journalists; it will look at his relationship with leading opposition and government politicians, including Jo Grimond, Hugh Gaitskell, Harold Wilson and James Callaghan; and it will explore his role in defending Penguin Books over the publication of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The paper will also give an insight into his correspondence with Scott Trust chairman Richard Scott as he managed his, sometimes difficult, relationship with Guardian Managing Director Laurence P. Scott.

Charlotte Alston: Reporting the Revolution: Guardian Correspondents in Russia and the Soviet Union, 1904-1939

The Guardian’s first permanent staff correspondent in a foreign capital was Harold Williams, who was posted in St Petersburg before and during Russia’s 1905 revolution. The newspaper maintained its coverage of revolutionary developments in the years that followed through a series of colourful correspondents. These included for example Morgan Philips Price, whose dispatches were heavily censored because of his support for the Bolshevik revolution and his opposition to the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War; and Malcolm Muggeridge, who travelled to Russia in the 1930s an enthusiastic supporter of the Soviet experiment, but returned disillusioned by his experience, and by the newspaper’s failure to prioritise his reports on the Ukrainian famine. This paper will explore some of the practical difficulties of reporting from Russia/the Soviet Union in the early twentieth century, as well as the political challenges that the Guardian faced editorially, in navigating a position between the uncritical commentary of domestic communist networks, and the overwhelming hostility to the Soviet Union of the right-wing British press.

Christopher Shoop-Worrall: From Loaves to Land Reform: The Manchester Guardian and the New Liberalism, 1900-1914

This paper will explore the Manchester Guardian’s political coverage of the 'New' Liberal Party from its ideological inception at the turn of the twentieth century until the outbreak of World War One. More specifically, by drawing from archival analyses of the paper's political coverage during the general elections of this period (1900, 1906 and the two of 1910), it will chart the evolution of the party's political identity as presented in the Guardian. From findings obtained using methodologically-innovative explorations of the newspaper's digital archives, it will be argued that the identity and essence of the Liberal Party were often defined by single, key issues. Moreover, this 'single-issue' identity was often framed through emotive language that related the party's identity to positive aspects of everyday lived experiences, especially those of the mass, working-class public.

Firstly, this paper will seek to add to existing histories of the New Liberal governments by refocusing attention on how the party was perceived by its potential voters, and how the ways in which newspapers (such as the Guardian) presented them may have had a substantial impact on their successes and failures at the polls. Secondly, this paper will touch upon the ways in which the Guardian's political coverage of this period can be interpreted as a part of the wider political impact of the 'New Journalism', as changes to newspaper language and editorial content evolved political coverage into a subject matter speaking to, and for, the interests of a larger mass audience.

Aaron Ackerley: “But I have not even tried to read Keynes, so do not pretend to understand…”: The Manchester Guardian’s Coverage of Economic Issues in the Interwar Period

The interwar period was a time of great economic turbulence, with an outpouring of possible explanations and remedies. The Manchester Guardian charted these troubled times and tried to provide elucidation. This paper uses extensive research from The John Rylands Library and the Guardian News and Media Archive to explain how the editors and journalists of the Guardian undertook that task. Specifically, their continuing defence of free trade and increasing acceptance of economic planning in the 1930s is documented.

Correspondence, editorial memos and reporters’ diaries are used to uncover the working practices of the newspaper staff. The division of responsibilities between departments and individuals, the level of editorial control, and the sources journalists turned to for information and inspiration are traced. The paper identifies those who wrote about economic topics, and the influence of key editorial figures such as C.P. Scott, Ted Scott and W.P. Crozier. This provides deeper insight into why the published newspaper copy took the form it did.

The newspaper was deeply embedded in the culture of Manchester. Journalists cultivated extensive links with local dining clubs, statistical societies, and the university faculty to provide them not just with newspaper copy, but intellectual insight. The paper charts this process following Britain’s abandonment of the gold standard in 1931.

The paper showcases an innovative approach, utilising archival material to explore the Manchester Guardian’s coverage of economic topics at a key juncture in history, explaining the role specific individuals and departments played in the formulation of the newspaper’s explanations and policies.

Steve Collins: A Challenge to the Editor

Manchester was the scene of great constitutional change during the 1830s. Following repeated defeats at the polls, Tory morale was low at this time, but the proposal in 1838 to incorporate the borough, under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, provided a rallying point and a cause to unify the ailing party in opposition to the plan. Incorporation presented for the first time the possibility that administrative power might be removed from those who felt they had the right to it by virtue of property, position and tradition, and given to elected representatives.

James Crossley, a prominent solicitor with literary and antiquarian interests, played an important part in defending the Tory viewpoint, and resisting any attempts to bring about reform. The Manchester Guardian championed the cause of incorporation, while the Manchester Courier and Wheeler's Manchester Chronicle took the opposite view. When the debate was at its height and tempers were running high on both sides, a dispute developed between Crossley and the founder and first editor of the Manchester Guardian, John Edward Taylor, who has been described as ‘a small man of louring mien and priggish temperament’. Taylor described Crossley, by implication, as a ‘disreputable lawyer … guilty not merely of wilful misrepresentation, but of actual falsehood’ which resulted in Crossley challenging Taylor to a duel. This paper will tell the story of the events leading up to this challenge, and examine its consequences.

Luke Heselwood: The Manchester Guardian and the General Election of 1857

In the mid-nineteenth century, Manchester’s politics was dominated by Radicals such as John Bright, Thomas Milner Gibson, George Wilson and Richard Cobden. These men, who established the Anti-Corn Law League in Manchester, were synonymous with the city. They were believed to represent the city’s liberal values, leading Benjamin Disraeli to use the term the ‘Manchester School’ to describe their common principles.
However, in the election of 1857, the ‘Manchester School’ MPs were turned out of their seats – a result that shocked the nation. The city’s electors challenged the political monopoly the ‘Manchester School’ had enjoyed there since the 1840s. The Manchester Guardian led the campaign against the Radical MPs and was instrumental in shaping public opinion.

This paper will demonstrate the influential role the newspaper played in the results of the election and in ensuring that the issues that dominated Manchester’s local election received nationwide attention. In particular, it will examine the Guardian’s ridicule of John Bright and its role in severing the tie between the electorate and the MP in 1857. The Guardian’s articles were relentless in their attacks of Bright and instead, offered support to his Liberal rivals.

By doing so, the newspaper not only created derogatory perceptions of John Bright, but had an enormous impact on the political values of the electorate. During the 1857 campaign, it shaped the city’s liberalism – particularly in regard to foreign policy – away from the Radical agenda and in favour of Palmerston’s aggressive international campaigns.

Colin Storer: The Cost of Comment: W.T. Goode, the Guardian and Political Censorship after the First World War

The detention of the Manchester Guardian’s correspondent William T. Goode by British Naval Forces in the Baltic in September 1919 has occasionally been mentioned by historians in the context of British engagement with Russia and the Baltic in the aftermath of War and Revolution. However, there has not hitherto been a detailed examination of the case that fully considers the ways in which it fits in to the broader context of responses to the Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War or of political censorship in Britain. In particular, important details such as Goode’s links to British Intelligence or his later political activism on behalf of Soviet Russia have until now been largely overlooked by historians. Drawing on a range of sources including the Manchester Guardian’s coverage of Goode’s detention and its aftermath and documents from the Guardian Archives, this paper examines for the first time the complexities of this incident and seeks to understand exactly why Goode was detained and what this episode can reveal about relations between the left-leaning press and military and civilian authorities in the wake of the Russian Revolution and the First World War. In particular, it demonstrates how military commanders ‘on the ground’ acted pro-actively and precipitously to censor left-wing journalists whose copy or activities they considered to be politically suspect or seditious and in doing so came into conflict with, or caused embarrassment to, the civilian authorities in London.

Guy Hodgson: Narrative of Conflict: The Guardian and ‘necessary untruths’ of the Second World War

All media were subject to censorship between 1939 and 1945 and that affected the dialogue between newspapers and their audiences. Successes were exaggerated and reverses diminished in reports even when readers in bombed areas could see for themselves the gap between the journalism and the truth.

Knightley, Conboy and other historians have noted that this is the default position of Fleet Street in times of conflict but there is evidence that British newspapers exceeded even the strictures placed upon them by the censor and the inclination to support ‘our boys’ in the Second World War, abandoning the normal tenets of reporting. Using the Guardian Archive in the John Rylands Library, memos by the Manchester Guardian editor W.P. Crozier reveal that the newspaper chose not to reveal several important stories, including the potential unification of Britain and France, advance news of the invasion of Russia by Germany in June 1941 and the true state of morale in the East End of London at the height of The Blitz.

This paper will look at these omissions and other examples of mis-truths and propaganda that were generic in Fleet Street and the local press between 1939 and 1945. It will ask why Crozier and other editors supinely followed the official line to an extent that even Home Intelligence, which monitored morale for the government, felt their coverage was counter-productive and was holding back the recovery process.

For historians the newspapers of that period are important for what is omitted and how news was moulded to meet the need to preserve morale; for readers it increased the distrust in what appeared in their newspapers, a legacy that endures to today.