The Daily Mail is the second biggest selling newspaper in the UK, printing from Monday to Saturday. The newspaper’s sister paper, The Mail On Sunday, publishes once a week, and the Daily Mail has an average daily circulation of 1,134,184 copies as of February 2020. Many original Daily Mail newspapers are housed in our Daily Mail archive, letting you explore issues from the date of your choice.

Daily Mail Original Newspapers

Daily Mail, January 13, 1960

Early History 

The Daily Mail history begins when the newspaper was founded by Alfred Harmsworth and his brother Harold Harmsworth, who would later become Lord Northcliffe and Lord Rothermere, respectively. The first edition of the newspaper was printed in broadsheet format on 4th May 1896. The paper had enormous success in its early years, particularly since it embraced Britain’s entry into a new technological era. It also emphasised fast delivery of news, using new technology such as mechanical typesetting on a linotype machine and rotary printing machines, to deliver news stories quicker than other newspapers of the time. 

When Lord Northcliffe died in 1922, Lord Rothermere took full control of the paper and it would subsequently pass down through the generations of his family. His son Esmond Harmsworth (2nd Viscount Rothermere) was appointed Chairman of Associated Newspapers in 1932. During the 1930s, Esmond Harmsworth had depicted the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini in a positive light due to his admiration of the two men. In turn, the paper encouraged the expansion of the fascist movement. This makes reading back issues of the newspaper from the 1930s particularly interesting.

The Harmsworth Family 

Esmond was then succeeded by his son Vere Harmsworth (3rd Viscount Rothermere) in 1971. Following the death of Vere Harmsworth in 1998, his son Jonathan Harmsworth (4th Viscount Rothermere) became Chairman of both Associated Newspapers and its parent company, The Daily Mail and General Trust. 

The Daily Mail has remained since its conception within the Harmsworth family. The paper had been cleverly captioned ‘A Penny Newspaper for One Halfpenny,‘ at a time when all other London daily newspapers were priced at one penny. 

The paper adopted an imperialist-patriotic stance during the Boer War and became the first UK newspaper to achieve sales of over one million, marking an important milestone in Daily Mail history. After this, the newspaper became the largest in the world.

daily mail clock

The Daily Mail Clock
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Front Page Printing

The Daily Mail began to print headlines and news stories on the front page from 4th September 1939, which coincided with the outbreak of the Second World War. The front cover had previously been dedicated to advertisements, as advertising revenue helped towards the cost of producing the paper. During the war, newsprint rationing meant the Daily Mail had to reduce its size to just four pages, but it gradually increased again when the 1950s began. 

Other Editions of the Daily Mail 

The Scottish edition of the paper has been circulating since 1946, and in 1960, Associated Newspapers purchased Daily News Limited, publishers of the News Chronicle, from the Cadbury family. The Irish edition of the paper emerged much later in 2006. Currently, the newspaper is one of the top three biggest selling newspapers in the UK, following The Sun and Metro, and its website has more than 100 million visits per month.

scottish daily mail original newspaper archive

Scottish Daily Mail, July 1, 1960

Current Ownership 

Currently, the Daily Mail is part of Associated Newspapers, which is a subsidiary of the Daily Mail and General Trust, owned by Jonathan Harmsworth (4th Viscount Rothermere). The Daily Mail and General Trust also owns several other newspaper titles, with total revenues of around £2 billion.

Political Stance

The paper takes a centre-right political stance and is considered to be the voice of ‘Middle-England‘. It strongly defends conservative or traditional values and regularly speaks-out against liberal views. Although now printed in tabloid format, the Daily Mail continues to position itself in the middle market between the tabloid and broadsheet newspapers. 

The Daily Mail has always been associated with politics and dominates coverage on political life. It has also been known for its coverage of foreign news affairs, expanding on simply national news stories. You can search our Daily Mail front page archives for more in-depth features on the paper’s political landscape.

Femail Section

The newspaper also changed the nature of news publishing by introducing a ‘Femail’ section that appealed directly to female readers, and even today, women make up the majority of the readership. 

News Chronicle and Daily Sketch Mergings

The News Chronicle was subsequently merged with the Daily Mail on 18th October 1960 and relaunched in tabloid format on 3rd May 1971, to mark the 75th anniversary of the newspaper. Finally, the paper merged with its sister-tabloid, the Daily Sketch, on 11th May 1971. The newspaper experienced journalistic success throughout the 1980s, incorporating many great writers such as Nigel Dempster, a gossip columnist, Lynda Lee-Potter and Ian Wooldridge, a sportswriter.

The Mail on Sunday

The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982 as its sister paper. It was the UK’s first new national Sunday newspaper in over 21 years and it’s the second highest selling Sunday newspaper in the UK. The Mail on Sunday takes a centre-right political stance, but offers a more limited endorsement of the Conservative Party than the Daily Mail. It supported the Social Democratic Party in 1983 and moved to full colour production in 2008 when the newspaper was redesigned. Although printed in tabloid format, the newspaper positions itself in the middle-market, between the tabloid and broadsheet papers. To read a copy of the Daily Mail’s sister paper for yourself, explore our Sunday mail archives.

Daily Mail

Daily Mail, May 3, 2011

Daily Mail Circulation Figures 

DateCirculation
1910900,000
19301,845,000
19391,533,000
19472,076,000
19562,071,708
19612,610,000
19662,318,000
19761,755,000
19801,948,000
19871,759,000
19921,675,453
19972,344,183
20102,120,347
20151,688,727
20201,134,184


As we can see from the circulation figures (average circulations for each year), the Daily Mail’s circulation reached a peak in 1961 and has varied in the years since. There wasn’t much change between 1976 and 1987, but the circulation figures have gradually declined since 1997. 

Despite this, the rise in the Internet as a news source for the publication means not all readers will be buying print copies, which accounts for the declining figures. The website has more than 218 million unique visitors a month, and its average daily readership between April 2019 and March 2020 was around 2.18 million.