View Full Version : Broadsheets and Tabloids

10-01-2009, 05:44 AM
Simple question perhaps. My heroine in 1890 wants to make a cutting remark about someone reading what we would today refer to as "the tabloids". But I'm not sure how she would say this, or if it even applies in this time.

ETA: The scene is set in London... (thanks for the reminder, TheIT)

Here is the part of the scene I'm referring to (this is not a Share Your Work so I'm not asking for crits, I just want to contextualise):

“This is Miss Greenhaigh, Doctor,” Miss Potter put in.
“No it’s not.” Gordon gazed keenly at me. I sat up a little starighter. It was rather like being a small insect observed by a schoolboy – one couldn’t sense whether the interest was mere scientific curiosity or something more sinister. Regardless, one felt one’s wings in danger of being pulled off.
“Yes, I have her card right here – Miss Greenhaigh missed her appointment last week, you remember?”
Gordon flapped a hand at her, gaze not leaving my face. “Miss Greenhaigh missed her appointment, Vera, you’ll have no arguments from me there,” she said plainly. “But this is not Miss Greenhaigh. Who are you?” she asked me suddenly, her eyebrows knitted together.
I considered my options. “I'm Isabel Crawford.”
The doctor nodded. “The Honourable Isabel Crawford? Daughter of the ruined Baron?”
I gave her an icy smile. “I see you manage to read the tabloids, Miss Gordon."

The reference being that Isabel's misfortunes have been splashed all over the gutter press.
However, in a society where there are special "divorce pages" showing whose divorce proceedings were currently before the courts, I was wondering if there would be any stigma attached to reading these things?

Any thoughts?

10-01-2009, 05:49 AM
Not sure of the answer, but you might need to provide more information. What country is this set in?

Also not sure of the Sherlock Holmes time period, but I think I remember seeing references to "agony columns"? Maybe that's it?

Also, when posting, it helps to paste your excerpt from Word into a Notepad file, then cut & paste from the Notepad file into the reply box. Gets rid of all the formatting the board software can't understand.

10-01-2009, 05:58 AM
Thanks, The IT. The scene is set in London, 1890.

I think I fixed the formatting now... don't know why I didn't notice that before.

As far as I know, an "agony column" was what "agony aunts" edited. You'd write in seeking advice and they'd give you some home-spun words of wisdom.

What I'm looking for is:
a) whether the word "tabloid" was used to describe newspapers in those days;
b) whether it had the same connotations as it does today (eg you don't boast abut reading those newspapers, you tell people you read the Guardian instead); and
c) whether it was even considered "trashy" to report the details of the gambling debts/financial ruin/suicide of a Baron, or whether it was viewed as important info for public consumption.

I should have been more explicit in my first post, I see now!!

10-01-2009, 06:52 AM
didn't I put the newspaper references into Resources by Era? Look there and you'll find the newspapers online and can see how they deal with divorce.

Tabloid for the newspapers wasn't in use until the 20thC

10-01-2009, 07:08 AM
Thanks pdr, I already looked in the list, but I wanted to know if anyone had dealt with this before, and had a feel for whether it would be cutting for my character to suggest that the woman read this kind of newspaper/news.

Looking at the newspapers of the day is handy for a lot of things (and I do use these as a resource) but I guess what I'm asking is more of a "social mores" questions - can we compare reading about who was having a divorce processed or who had been "gazetted", to reading - for example - the Daily Mirror in England today? (No offence meant to people who enjoy the Daily Mirror.)

10-01-2009, 07:40 AM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-508936/The-wife-changed-history--asking-divorce.html an interesting article about divorce.

10-01-2009, 04:29 PM
Up until the 1920s if not later the term "tabloid" was the common term for what we would now call a tablet (and may even have been a registered trade mark) and its use for newspapers was by analogy when newspapers started being presented in that form.

Newspaper reporting of divorces was significantly restricted in the early/mid 1920s because of the prurient coverage of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll's divorce. Prior to that papers such as The News of The World covered them in juicy detail/

10-03-2009, 05:33 PM
They certainly had "tabloids" in france, but they were never called "tabloids" that's a newer word. Maybe pamphlet...? Google google google.LOL

10-03-2009, 05:35 PM
BTW, research "criminal conversation", as I imagine this would be the route of divorce via Church of England...? It was a huge, very expensive endeavor, which is why so many women just "put up with" being "put out" by their husbands and they would ultimately maintain two households. The subject of English divorce is one of my faves.

10-03-2009, 06:02 PM
BTW, research "criminal conversation", as I imagine this would be the route of divorce via Church of England...? It was a huge, very expensive endeavor, which is why so many women just "put up with" being "put out" by their husbands and they would ultimately maintain two households. The subject of English divorce is one of my faves.

Crim. con. is the damages action by the husband against the co-respondent; it didn't necessarily equate to divorce which was by private act of Parliament and available to men only up to 1857 and only on the grounds of adultery; after 1857 women could divorce their husbands for adultery coupled with cruelty, sodomy or desertion but not for simple adultery whereas men could divorce their wives for simple adultery; in 1923 the law was changed to make divorce available on the same terms for men and women. Prior to 1857 a decree of divorce a mensa e thoro via the ecclesiastical courts was available to women; it was not a divorce in that neither party could marry again but it produced an enforceable judicial separation. Otherwise the wife's only hope was to petition for a decree of nullity (like the Ruskins) which were available on very narrow grounds and accompanied by horrific levels of publicity.

10-06-2009, 04:04 AM
I think she'd read the Pall Mall Gazette. She wouldn't have to literally read it, it would also be used to describe a type of newspaper. It could be wonderfully trashy, full of gossip and sometimes even included stories that weren't made up.

In 1890 its credibility was at rock bottom.

Plus, it was attractive to women readers who liked some salacious scandal over their tea.