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The Daily Mail is a British daily tabloid newspaper. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper, The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982. Scottish and Irish editions of the paper were launched in 1947 and 2006 respectively. The Daily Mail was Britain's first daily newspaper aimed at what is now considered to be the middle-market and the first British paper to sell a million copies a day.


The Mail was originally a broadsheet but switched to a compact format on 3 May 1971, the 75th anniversary of its founding. On this date it also absorbed the Daily Sketch, which had been published as a tabloid by the same company. The publisher of the Mail, the Daily Mail and General Trust is currently a FTSE 250 company and the paper has a circulation of more than two million which is the third-largest circulation of any English language daily newspaper and one of the highest in the world.

Circulation figures according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations in July 2009 show gross sales of 2,178,640 for the Daily Mail. According to a December 2004 survey, 53% of Daily Mail readers voted for the Conservative Party, compared to 21% for Labour and 17% for the Liberal Democrats. The main concern of Viscount Rothermere, the current chairman and main shareholder, is that the circulation be maintained. He testified before a House of Lordsmarker select committee that "we need to allow editors the freedom to edit", and therefore the newspaper had no firm political allegiance or policy. The Mail has been edited by Paul Dacre since 1992.


Early history

The Daily Mail, devised by Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe) and his brother Harold (later Lord Rothermere), was first published on 4 May 1896. It was an immediate success. It cost a halfpenny at a time when other London dailies cost one penny, and was more populist in tone and more concise in its coverage than its rivals. The planned issue was 100,000 copies but the print run on the first day was 397,215 and additional printing facilities had to be acquired to sustain a circulation which rose to 500,000 in 1899. By 1902, at the end of the Boer War, the circulation was over a million, making it the largest in the world.

With Harold running the business side of the operation and Alfred as Editor, the Mail from the start adopted a imperialist political stance, taking a patriotic line in the Second Boer War, leading to claims that it was not reporting the issues of the day objectively. From the beginning, the Mail also set out to entertain its readers with human interest stories, serials, features and competitions (which were also the main means by which the Harmsworths promoted the paper).

In 1906 the paper offered £1,000 for the first flight across the English Channelmarker and £10,000 for the first flight from Londonmarker to Manchestermarker. Punch magazine thought the idea preposterous and offered £10,000 for the first flight to Mars, but by 1910 both the Mail's prizes had been won. (For full list see Daily Mail aviation prizes.)

In 1908, the Daily Mail began the Ideal Home Exhibition, which it still runs today.

The paper was accused of warmongering before the outbreak of World War I, when it reported that Germany was planning to crush the British Empire. Northcliffe created controversy by advocating conscription when the war broke out. On 21 May 1915, Northcliffe wrote a blistering attack on Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War. Kitchener was considered a national hero, and overnight the paper's circulation dropped from 1,386,000 to 238,000. 1,500 members of the London Stock Exchange ceremonially burned the unsold copies and launched a boycott against the Harmsworth Press. Prime Minister H. H. Asquith accused the paper of being disloyal to the country.

When Kitchener died, the Mail reported it as a great stroke of luck for the British Empire . The paper then campaigned against Asquith, who resigned on 5 December 1916. His successor, David Lloyd George, asked Northcliffe to be in his cabinet, hoping it would prevent him from criticising the government. Northcliffe declined.

Inter-war period

As Lord Northcliffe aged, his grip on the paper slackened and he might have nothing to do with it for months at a time. But light-hearted stunts might enliven him, such as the Hat campaign in the winter of 1920. This was a contest with a prize of £100 for new design of hat — a subject in which Northcliffe took a particular interest. There were 40,000 entries and the winner was a cross between a top hat and a bowler which was christened the Daily Mail Sandringham Hat. The paper subsequently promoted the wearing of it but without much success. In 1922, when Lord Northcliffe died, Lord Rothermere took full control of the paper.

In 1919, Alcock and Brown made the first flight across the Atlantic winning a prize of £10,000 from the Daily Mail. In 1930, the Mail made a great story of another aviation stunt, awarding another prize of £10,000 to Amy Johnson for making the first solo flight from England to Australia.

On 25 October, 1924 the Daily Mail published the forged Zinoviev Letter, which indicated that British Communists were planning violent revolution. This was a significant factor in the defeat of Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Party in the 1924 general election, held four days later.

From 1923, Lord Rothermere and the Daily Mail formed an alliance with the other great press baron, Lord Beaverbrook. Their opponent was the Conservative party politician and leader Stanley Baldwin. By 1929, George Ward Price was writing in the Mail that Baldwin should be deposed and Beaverbrook elected as leader. In early 1930, the two Lords launched the United Empire Party which the Daily Mail supported enthusiastically. The rise of the new party dominated the newspaper and, even though Beaverbrook soon withdrew, Rothermere continued to campaign. Vice Admiral Taylor fought the first by-election for the United Empire Party in October, defeating the official Conservative candidate by 941 votes. Baldwin's position was now in doubt but, in 1931, Duff Cooper, won the key by-election at St George's, Westminster, beating the UEP candidate, Sir Ernest Petter, supported by Rothermere, and this broke the political power of the press barons.

In 1927, the celebrated picture of the year, Morning by Dod Proctor was bought by the Daily Mail for the Tate Gallerymarker.

In early 1934, Rothermere and the Mail' were editorially sympathetic to Oswald Mosley and the radical National Socialist British Union of Fascists. Rothermere wrote an article entitled "Hurrah for the Blackshirts", in January 1934, praising Mosley for his "sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine". However, pressure from advertisers in the Daily Mail grew significant when Rothermere proposed to set up a cigarette company and so Rothermere backed off and ceased to support them.

During the great abdication crisis of 1936, the Daily Mail supported the King, but was only joined by the Daily Express, Evening Standard and Evening News.

Rothermere was a friend and supporter of both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, which influenced the Mail's political stance towards them up to 1939. Rothermere visited and corresponded with Hitler. On 1 October 1938, Rothermere sent Hitler a telegram in support of Germany's invasion of the Sudetenland, and expressing the hope that 'Adolf the Great' would become a popular figure in Britain. However, this was tempered by an awareness of the military threat from the resurgent Germany, of which he warned J.C. Davidson. Rothermere had an executive plane built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company which, with a speed of 307 mph, was faster than any fighter. In 1935, this plane was presented to the RAF on behalf of the Daily Mail where it became the Bristol Blenheim bomber.

In 1937, the Mail's chief war correspondent, George Ward Price, to whom Mussolini once wrote in support of him and the newspaper, published a book, I Know These Dictators, in defence of Hitler and Mussolini. Evelyn Waugh was sent as a reporter for the Mail to cover the anticipated Italian invasion of Ethiopia.

In 1938, as persecution of the Jews in Europe escalated, the Mail objected to their seeking asylum in Britain. “The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage. The number of aliens entering the country through the back door is­ a problem to which the Daily Mail has repeatedly pointed.”

Rothermere and the Mail supported Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement, particularly during the events leading up to the Munich Agreement. In 2005, the British Foreign Office disclosed previously secret letters from Rothermere addressed to Hitler from the summer of 1939, in which he congratulated the German leader on his annexation of Czechoslovakia, urged him to invade Romania, and called Hitler's work "great and superhuman". [26657] [26658]

Recent history

On 5 May, 1946, the Daily Mail celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Winston Churchill was the chief guest at the banquet and toasted it with a speech,

In reply, Lord Rothermere II, had something to say about the newsprint shortages at that time for, while the Mail of 1896 was 8 pages, the Mail of 1946 was reduced to just 4.

The Daily Mail was transformed by its editor of the seventies and eighties, Sir David English. Sir David began his Fleet Street career in 1951, joining The Daily Mirror before moving to The Daily Sketch, where he became features editor. It was the Sketch which brought him his first editorship, from 1969 to 1971. That year the Sketch was closed and he moved to take over the top job at the Mail, where he was to remain for more than 20 years. English transformed it from a struggling rival selling two million copies fewer than the Daily Express to a formidable journalistic powerhouse, which soared dramatically in popularity. After 20 years perfecting the Mail, Sir David English became editor-in-chief and chairman of Associated Newspapers in 1992.

The paper enjoyed a period of journalistic success in the 1980s, employing some of the most inventive writers in old Fleet Streetmarker including the gossip columnist Nigel Dempster, Lynda Lee Potter and sportswriter Ian Wooldridge (who unlike some of his colleagues - the paper generally did not support sporting boycotts of white-minority-ruled South Africa - strongly opposed Apartheid). In 1982, a Sunday title, the Mail on Sunday was launched (the Sunday Mail was already the name of a newspaper in Scotland, owned by the Mirror Group.) There are Scottish editions of both the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, with different articles and columnists. In 1992, the current editor, Paul Dacre, was appointed.

Scottish, Irish & Indian editions

Scottish Daily Mail

The Scottish Daily Mail was published as a separate title from Edinburghmarker, starting in 1947. The circulation was poor though, falling to below 100,000 and the operation was rebased to Manchestermarker in December 1968.

Irish edition

The Daily Mail officially entered the Irishmarker market with the launch of a local version of the paper on 6 February 2006; free copies of the paper were distributed on that day in some locations to publicise the launch. Its masthead differs from that of UK versions by having a green rectangle with the word "IRISH", instead of the Royal Arms. The Irish version includes stories of Irish interest alongside content from the UK version. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the Irish edition had a circulation of 63,511 for July 2007 and is steadily increasing on each survey. Since 24 September 2006 Ireland on Sunday, the Irish Sunday newspaper acquired by Associated in 2001, was replaced by an Irish edition of the Mail on Sunday (the Irish Mail on Sunday), to tie in with the weekday newspaper.

Mail Today

The newspaper entered India on 16 November 2007 with the launch of Mail Today, a 48-page compact size newspaper printed in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida with a print run of 110,000 copies. Based around a subscription model, the newspaper has the same fonts and feel as the Daily Mail and was set up with investment from Associated Newspapers and editorial assistance from the Daily Mail newsroom.

Libel lawsuits

On 27 April 2007, film star Hugh Grant accepted damages over claims made about his relationships with his former girlfriends in three separate tabloid articles published in the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday on 18, 21 and 24 February. His lawyer stated that all of the articles' "allegations and factual assertions are false." Grant said, in a written statement, that he took the action because: "I was tired of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday papers publishing almost entirely fictional articles about my private life for their own financial gain. I'm also hoping that this statement in court might remind people that the so-called 'close friends' or 'close sources' on which these stories claim to be based almost never exist."

World football governing body, FIFAmarker, also filed a lawsuit against the Daily Mail due to comments made by sportswriter Andrew Jennings against the organisation and its president Sepp Blatter.

The Daily Mail falsely reported that former child star Mark Lester assaulted his ex-wife and had allowed his son to share a bedroom with Michael Jackson. In 2008 substantial damages along with legal costs were awarded to Mark Lester after he launched a libel case against the paper.

Other libel awards against the Daily Mail (and Mail on Sunday) include:

  • November 2009 - Actress Kate Winslet awarded £25,000 in damages after an article in the Daily Mail titled "Should Kate Winslet win an Oscar for the world's most irritating actress?" accuses her of lying about her exercise regime.
  • 2009 - September - Metropolitan police commander Ali Dizaei accepts 'substantial' damages after a story falsely accusing him of being a bigamist.
  • 2009 - May - Labour MP Tom Watson accepts 'substantial undisclosed damages' over untrue allegations he 'was not only copied into emails between former Downing Street press adviser Damian McBride and activist Derek Draper but "encouraged" them.'
  • 2009 - May - three women whose stories had appeared in an article about women who'd adopted children, suggesting they did so for 'selfish' reasons, were awarded £10,000 each in damages.
  • 2009 - January - £30,000 award to Dr Austen Ivereigh, who had worked for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, accused of hypocrisy over abortion.
  • 2007 - May - Actress Keira Knightley awarded £3,000 for an article in which it was falsely claimed she was anorexic.
  • 2006 - May - £100,000 damages for Elton John, falsely accused of rude and dictatorial behaviour
  • 2006 - April - Undisclosed damages paid to actress Sharon Stone following a story falsely claiming she'd left her child in a car unattended while she ate at a nearby restaurant.
  • 2006 - March - A formal apology and substantial damages awarded to businessman Sheldon Adelson, in a case estimated to have cost £4m
  • 2004 - April - Actor Rowan Atkinson was paid 'substantial' damages after story falsely stating he was on the verge of a mental breakdown.
  • 2003- October - Actress Diana Rigg awarded £30,000 in damages over story which 'wrongly portrayed her as an embittered woman who held British men in low regard'
  • 2003 - August - Actress Nicole Kidman awarded 'substantial' damages after false story accused her of having an affair with actor Jude Law
  • 2001 - February - Businessman Alan Sugar was awarded £100,000 in damages following story which falsly accused him of 'being "miserly" in his stewardship of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.'
  • 1899 - February - £1000 damages to William Waldorf Astor, having been held up to ridicule and contempt

Editorial stance

The Mail takes an anti-EU, anti-abortion view, based upon "traditional values", and is pro-capitalism and pro-monarchy, as well as, in some cases, advocating stricter punishments for crime. It also often calls for lower levels of taxation. The paper is generally critical of the BBC, which it argues is biased to the left.

In the late 1960s, the paper went through a phase of being liberal on social issues like corporal punishment but reverted to its traditional conservative line.

It has Richard Littlejohn, who returned in 2005 from The Sun, alongside Peter Hitchens, who joined its sister title the Mail on Sunday in 2001, when his former newspaper, the Daily Express, was purchased by Richard Desmond, the owner of a number of pornographic titles. The editorial stance was critical of Tony Blair, when he was still Prime Minister, and endorsed the Conservative Party in the 2005 general election In Blair's earlier years as Labour leader and then Prime Minister, the paper wrote positively about him and his reforms of the party. Opponents of Littlejohn have accused him of being preoccupied with homosexuality, and lying about asylum seekers being 'hosed down in benefits'.

The Mail has also opposed the growing of genetically-modified crops in the United Kingdom, a stance it shares with many of its left-wing critics.

On international affairs, the Mail broke with the establishment media consensus over the 2008 South Ossetia war between Russia and Georgiamarker. The Mail accused the British government of dragging Britain into an unnecessary confrontation with Russia and of hypocrisy regarding its protests over Russian recognition of Abkhaziamarker and South Ossetiamarker's independence, citing the British government's own recognition of Kosovomarker's independence from Russia's ally Serbiamarker.

Famous stories

On 7 January 1967, the Mail published a story The holes in our roads about potholes, giving the examples of Blackburnmarker where it said there were 4,000 holes. This detail was then immortalised by John Lennon in the Beatles song A Day in the Life along with an account of the death of Tara Browne which also appeared in the same issue.

The Mail campaigned on the case of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in Eltham, Londonmarker in April 1993. On 14 February 1997, the Mail led its front page with a picture of the five men accused of Lawrence's murder and the headline "MURDERERS", stating that it believed that the men had murdered Lawrence and adding "if we are wrong, let them sue us". This attracted praise from Paul Foot and Peter Preston.

On 16 July 1993 The Mail ran the headline "Abortion hope after 'gay genes' finding"; this headline has been widely criticized in subsequent years, for example as "perhaps the most infamous and disturbing headline of all" (of headlines from tabloid newspapers commenting on the Xq28 gene).

The 16 October 2009 Jan Moir article on the death of Stephen Gately,which many people felt was inaccurate, insensitive, and homophobic, generated over 25,000 complaints, the highest number of complaints for a newspaper article in the history of the Press Complaints Commission.Major advertisers such as Marks and Spencer responded to the criticism by asking for their own adverts to be removed from the Mail Online webpage around Moir's article. The Daily Mail removed all display ads from the webpage with the Gately column.

Supplements and features

Daily Mail
  • City & Finance - City & Finance is the business part of the Daily Mail, and the Financial Mail is the business paper free with the Mail on Sunday. City & Finance features City News and the results from the London Stock Exchange, and also has its own website called This is Money.
  • Travelmail - Contains travel articles, advertisements etc.
  • Femail - Femail is an extensive part of the Daily Mail's newspaper and website, being one of four main features on Mail Online others being News, TV & Showbiz and Sport. It is designed for women.
  • Weekend - The Daily Mail Weekend is a TV guide published by the Daily Mail, included free with the Mail every Saturday. Weekend magazine, launched in October 1993, is issued free with the Saturday Daily Mail. The guide does not use a magazine-type layout but chooses a newspaper style similar to the Daily Mail itself. In April 2007, the "Weekend" had a major revamp. A feature changed during the revamp was a dedicated Freeview channel page.

Mail on Sunday
  • Financial Mail on Sunday - now part of the main paper, this section includes the Financial Mail Enterprise, focusing on small business.
  • You - You magazine is a women's magazine featured in the Mail on Sunday. It is a mix of in-depth features plus fashion, beauty advice, practical insights on health and relationships, food recipes and interiors. The Mail markets it, with Live magazine, as the only paper to have a magazine for him (Live) and for her (You). The Mail on Sunday is read by over six million a week.
  • Live - this magazine is aimed at men. The main features are columns by well-known people .
  • Mail on Sunday 2 This pullout includes review, featuring articles on the arts, books and culture and it consists of reviews of all media and entertainment forms and interviews with sector personalities, property, travel and health.
  • Sportsmail - on the back pages of the Mail. It features different sports including an emphasis on alternative sports such as darts and snooker.
  • Football Mail on Sunday - this reviews Premier League, Championship and Football League games from Saturday as well certain international games.

Regular cartoon strips

Current cartoon strips that are in the Daily Mail include Garfield which moved from the Daily Express in 2006 and is also included in The Mail on Sunday. I Don't Believe It is another 3/4 part strip, written by Dick Millington. Odd Streak and The Strip Show, which is shown in 3D are one part strips. Up and Running is a strip distributed by Knight Features and Fred Basset follows the life of the dog of the same name in a two part strip in the Daily Mail since 8 July 1963. The Gambols are another feature in the Mail on Sunday.

The long-running Teddy Tail cartoon strip, was first published on 5 April 1915 and was the first cartoon strip in a British newspaper. It ran for over 40 years to 1960, spawning the Teddy Tail League Children's Club and many annuals from 1934 to 1942 and again from 1949 to 1962. Teddy Tail was a mouse, with friends Kitty Puss (a cat), Douglas Duck and Dr. Beetle. Teddy Tail is always shown with a knot in his tail.

Online media

The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday publish most of their news online in a service called the Mail Online. Most of the site can be viewed for free and without registration, though some services require users to register.


Notable regular contributors (past and present)




Past writers


1899: Thomas Marlowe
1926: W. G. Fish
1929: Oscar Pulvermacher
1930: William McWhirter
1931: W. L. Warden
1935: Arthur Cranfield
1939: Bob Prew
1944: Stanley Horniblow
1947: Frank Owen
1950: Guy Schofield
1955: Arthur Wareham
1959: William Hardcastle
1963: Mike Randall
1966: Arthur Brittenden
1971: David English
1992: Paul Dacre

Source: D. Butler and A. Sloman, British Political Facts, 1900–1975 p. 378

See also

  • Daily Chronicle, a newspaper which merged with the Daily News to become the News-Chronicle and was finally absorbed by the Daily Mail


  1. Associated Newspapers Ltd - Daily Mail
  2. Gardiner, The Times, The Atlantic Monthly, January 1917 page 113
  3. New York Times Current History 1917, New York Times Company, 1917 page 211
  4. "Hurrah for the Blackshirts"
  5. Audit Bureau of Circulations
  6. Mail Today
  7. Associated Newspapers launches Mail Today in India
  8. FIFA files lawsuit against Daily Mail. March 19, 2003.
  9. Oliver actor accepts libel damages from Daily Mail. December 9, 2008.
  10. Staff and Agencies Kate Winslet accepts £25,000 libel damages from Daily Mail,3 Novermber 2009, The Guardian
  11. John Plunkett Daily Mail and Evening Standard pay damages to London police commander, 24 September 2009, The Guardian
  12. PA Mediapoint Mail on Sunday pays out to Labour MP for smear claims, 20 May 2009, Press Gazette
  13. Paul McNally Daily Mail makes three libel payouts over adoption claims, 26 May 2009, Press Gazette
  14. Oliver Luft and agencies, Daily Mail pays out after alleging former Catholic PR man was hypocrite, 29 January 2009, The Guardian
  15. Thair Shaikh Knightley awarded £3,000 damages over anorexia claim , 25 May 2007, The Independent
  16. Jacqueline Maley, Elton John gets £100,000 for Daily Mail libel, 25 May 2006, The Guardian
  17. Roger Pearson, Sharon Stone libel win versus Mail, 25 May 2006, Press Gazette
  18. Roger Pearson, Daily Mail left with £4 million libel bill after battle with world's 12th richest man, 19 March 2008, Press Gazette
  19. Adelson wins Daily Mail libel action, 19 March 2008, Schillings Lawyers
  20. Jason Deans[1], 22 April 2004, The Guardian
  21. Ciar Byrne Rigg wins case against Associated, 20 October 2003, The Guardian
  22. Cahal Milmo 'Mail' pays damages to Kidman over Law affair claim, 1 August 2003, The Independent
  23. Daniel Rogers Sugar wins libel battle, 16 February 2001, The Guardian
  24. MR. ASTOR'S LIBEL SUIT; London Daily Mail-Apologizes for an Unfounded Report., 8 February 1899, New York Post
  25. Douglas, Torin (June 18, 2007). Does the BBC have a bias problem?. BBC News.
  26. However you vote, give Mr Blair a bloody nose, Daily Mail, 5th May 2005
  27. May, Margaret; Page, Robert M.; Brunsdon, Edward (2001). Understanding social problems: issues in social policy. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 272.
  28. This is Money
  29. Advertising for the Daily Mail
  30. Rickards, Maurice; Twyman, Michael (2000). The encyclopaedia of ephemera: a guide to the fragmentary documents of everyday life for the collector, curator, and historian. Routledge. p. 103.
  31. Source: Williams' memoir, The World of Action (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1938), which describes his career and journalistic adventures.

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