“Poison!” “Arson!” “Death His Bride!” How to Make a Newspaper Go: 1898

police news

The Path to Success.

‘Double Murder!”  “Suicide!”

‘Poison!” “Arson!”  “Death His Bride!”

‘Dead Man’s Message!”  “Poor White Slave!”

‘Earthquake!” “Landslide!”  “Tidal Wave!”

‘Crushed to Death by Cable Car!”

‘How to Run a Private Bar!”

“Prlze-Fight Makes a Strange Romance!”

‘Woman in Hypnotic Trance!”

‘Smallpox!”  “Typhus!”  “Spotted Death!”

‘Man with Poison in His Breath!”

‘Pretty Actress Breaks Her Leg!”

‘Russell Sage on ‘How to Beg’!”

‘Frightful Deluge!”  “Holocaust!”

‘Railroad Smash-Up, Ninety Lost!”

‘Cut in Two by Whirling Saw!”

‘Woman Smashed her Husband’s Jaw!”

‘Three-Eyed Baby!”  “Armless Man!”

‘Strychnine Put in Milking Can!”

‘How I Murdered Ninety Men!”

‘Raving Dog that Mangled Ten!”

‘Woman Samson!”  “Man Ate Glass!”

‘Blown to Atoms!”  “Killed by Gas!”


That’s the kind of stuff we know  

Makes the Yellow Papers go.  

McLandburgh Wilson , Life, 1898

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: There has always been a moral divide between newspapers one could read aloud to the family circle and newspapers that one might actually enjoy reading. Some editors fulminated against the latter as in this editorial:


There is a growing feeling in every healthy community against journals which make it their special object to minister to a perverted taste by seeking out and serving up in a seductive form licentious revelations. There is reason to believe that the clean newspaper is more highly prized to-day than it was four or five years ago. It is also safe to predict that as people in all ranks of life, who protect their own at least from contamination become more conscious of the pernicious influence of a certain class of journals, they will be careful to see that the journals they permit to be read in the family circle are of the class that never forget the proprieties of life.

The Cambridge [OH] Jeffersonian  6 February 1879: p. 1

In a juxtaposition entirely overlooked by the Jeffersonian copyeditors, in the next column over from this editorial utterance is a lurid story about grave robbing. Just below it is an article containing the statement: “Dr. O’Donnell loaded a wagon with Chinese lepers, in San Francisco, and exhibited them in the streets as proof of his previous assertions that the leprosy was common in that city. He was arrested but a justice discharged him. He declared that he could fill the court room with lepers in two hours.”

As she writes this, Mrs Daffodil can hear the tweeny squeaking with delighted horror as Cook reads The Illustrated Police News aloud at tea…. 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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