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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

‘Training the Mind of Many’: The North & South Shields Gazette and the Repeal of the ‘Taxes on Knowledge’

Robinson, Alistair (2023) ‘Training the Mind of Many’: The North & South Shields Gazette and the Repeal of the ‘Taxes on Knowledge’. Doctoral thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


This thesis is a case study of a newspaper during a defining period in the history of UK journalism. It focuses on the North & South Shields Gazette between 1849 and 1865 and looks at how it navigated the repeal of the newspaper taxes known as the “taxes on knowledge”. It is the first in-depth study of an individual newspaper during this period.

As will be discussed, the repeal of the taxes on knowledge had a profound influence on the newspaper industry in this country. The North & South Shields Gazette is significant because it responded to the repeal of the central of those taxes, the stamp duty, in a particularly enterprising manner.

The Repeal Act came into force on Friday, June 29, 1855 and on Monday, July 2 the weekly Gazette launched its Daily Telegraphic Edition. The forerunner of today’s Shields Gazette, it has a claim to be Britain’s oldest provincial halfpenny evening newspaper. It has, however, been largely dismissed or ignored by historians. This thesis is the first academic study to show why the Daily Telegraphic Edition deserves its place in newspaper history.

It considers the Gazette’s attitude and response to repeal in the light of existing theories and reveals that, with this newspaper at least, the response was more nuanced than those theories suggest. It demonstrates that the Daily Telegraphic Edition pioneered modern methods of news
writing and presentation in a direct attempt to target a working-class audience but as part of a newspaper package that, initially, also sought to modify the behaviour of that audience.

In the process it sheds light – partly through the first academic access to the proprietor’s diary – on the day-to-day work and lives of the men who ran the newspaper and argues that the way they approached tax repeal needs to be seen within a wider societal context.

A key finding of this thesis is that those men, who had links to the national repeal campaign and to a wide range of working-class charities, managed to combine hegemonic and philanthropic impulses with hard-headed commercial concerns in their response to the repeal of the stamp duty. Such a response has never before been identified.

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Depositing User: Nicola Jackson


Item ID: 16211

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Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2023 17:01
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2023 08:01


Author: Alistair Robinson

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