The Daily Mirror newspaper is part of Mirror Group Newspapers, which is a subsidiary of Trinity Mirror plc. It is printed in tabloid format and as of December 2008, and has an average daily circulation of 1,346,916 copies. The newspaper takes a centre-left political stance and it is the only national daily newspaper in the UK to have loyally supported the Labour Party from 1945 up to the present day.

History of the Daily Mirror

The Daily Mirror was founded by Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe) of the Daily Mail on 2 November 1903, making it the UK’s oldest surviving tabloid newspaper. Our Daily Mirror archives lets you find old issues from the date of your choice, going back as far as when the newspaper first began printing. Although it was printed in tabloid format from the first edition, the Daily Mirror was originally a middle-class paper. The Daily Mirror was intended to represent women’s interests and was thus run by women. However, it was also designed with men in mind. Alfred Harmsworth announced in the opening editorial:

‘It is new, because it represents in journalism a development that is entirely new and modern in the world; it is unlike any other newspaper because it attempts what no other newspaper has ever attempted. It is no mere bulletin of fashion, but a reflection of women’s interests, women’s thought, women’s work’ it is only now that increased breadth in interests makes it possible for me to find the large staff of cultivated, able, and experienced women necessary for the conduct of a suitable newspaper.’


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First Issues

The first issues of old Daily Mirror newspapers carried advertisements on the front page, which helped pay towards the costs of running the newspaper. However, the publication was transformed into a pictorial paper on 26th January 1904. It featured engraved pictures on the front cover and was briefly renamed ‘The Daily Illustrated Mirror’, but this title only remained until 27 April 1904. After this, it reverted back to the old name of The Daily Mirror. Several other changes took place on the publication at this time, as it searched for increased readership. The female journalists were replaced and ‘A paper for men and women’ was added to the masthead. Furthermore, the price of the newspaper was reduced to a halfpenny. The Daily Mirror’s circulation subsequently flourished from 38,540 copies at the end of November 1903 to 120,000 copies by February 1904.

In January 1914, Harold Harmsworth (later Lord Rothermere) purchased the Daily Mirror from his brother Lord Northcliffe (Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe). The average daily sale by that time had reached more than one million copies. Lord Rothermere sold his shares in the Daily Mirror between 1931 and 1935, but this did not mark the end of the Harmsworth dynasty’s influence on the newspaper.

Cecil Harmsworth King (Lord Rothermere’s nephew and Advertising Director) together with Harry Guy Bartholomew (Editorial Director) pioneered a revolution at the Daily Mirror during the 1930s and 1940s, transforming the publication into a left-wing paper for the working class. Similarly to the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror’s stance became aligned with the politics of Mussolini and Hitler in the early 1930s, since Lord Rothermere was a friend of theirs. During the late 1930s, the paper began to resemble the New York tabloids in terms of appearance, in which illustrations became a bigger part of the newspaper and headlines were more prominent. When the Second World War began, the Mirror identified itself with soldiers and ordinary civilians.

Guy Bartholomew was appointed Chairman of the Daily Mirror in 1944, which supported the Labour Party for the first time at the General Election of 1945. By the late 1940s, circulation had overtaken the Daily Express and risen to an average daily sale of 4.5 million copies, therefore making the Daily Mirror the United Kingdom’s biggest selling newspaper. This was one of the biggest moments in Daily Mirror history.

In 1951, Cecil King replaced Guy Bartholomew as Chairman of the newspaper. King added the Scottish Daily Record and the Sunday Mail to Daily Mirror Newspapers Ltd in 1955. He subsequently acquired Amalgamated Press (later renamed Fleetway) in 1958 and Odhams (publisher of the Daily Herald newspaper) in 1961, to form the International Publishing Corporation (IPC) on 31st December 1962. As Chairman of IPC between 1963 and 1968, Cecil King now presided over the world’s largest publishing enterprise. Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror became the world’s largest selling paper with a record average daily sale of 5,282,137 copies in 1967.


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Later issues

On Wednesday 4th October 1969, the Daily Mirror became the first daily newspaper in the UK to produce a free weekly colour magazine. However, according to Daily Mirror history during the circulation of the free weekly magazine, this was printed for only nine months. In the 1960s, daily sales of the newspaper reached over 5 million, making the Daily Mirror the only British newspaper to do so. 

In 1970, IPC was taken over by Reed (which it part owned) in a reverse takeover and the new company was named Reed International. In 1974, Reed separated the company into two groups – IPC (the magazines titles) and Mirror Group Newspapers (the newspaper holdings). In 1979, The Daily Mirror encouraged its readers to back the Labour Party, in which James Callaghan was at the forefront. The newspaper has often displayed its alignment with the Labour Party.  

Mirror Group Newspapers was subsequently sold to Robert Maxwell on 12th July 1984, who was proprietor of the Daily Mirror until his death in November 1991.

The Daily Mirror began to regularly print colour photographs on 2nd June 1988. It moved to full colour production on 2nd April 2008, as the newspaper was redesigned with a new look, introducing new headline and copy fonts. For a marketing campaign with Pepsi-Cola, the Daily Mirror was printed on blue paper on April 2 1996, on the same day that Pepsi-Cola relaunched their cans in blue and without their traditional red and white logo. On 11th October 1997, the Daily Mirror launched ‘Look’ magazine. This was the second time a colour insert had accompanied the newspaper and the first time a magazine was issued alongside the Saturday edition. It included television listings, reviews and celebrity interviews, in addition to features on fashion, shopping and cooking.

The Daily Mirror was relocated to its current premises at 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, by David Montgomery (Chief Executive 1992-1999) during March 1994. Subsequently in September 1999, Mirror Group Newspapers was taken over by Trinity (the regional newspaper publisher) to form Trinity Mirror.

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The Sunday Mirror

The Sunday Mirror is its sister paper, which was founded in 1915 and was originally called “The Sunday Pictorial”. Although printed in tabloid format since formation, the Sunday Pictorial was aimed at the conservative middle classes and thus contained features on fashion and society. It was an immediate success, reaching a stunning circulation of over one million copies within six months. You can read an original issue of the newspaper by searching our Sunday Mirror archive!

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