Illustrated Police News: sensationalist 19th century crime newspaper

As a fan of police blotters and, well, blogs, I'm sure I would have loved the Illustrated Police News, a British newspaper founded in 1863 that aggregated news of murders, assaults wrongdoings and other antics of the wretched hives of scum and villainy in the UK and around the world. In the new issue of Fortean Times, Jan Bondeson — author of the excellent history "A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities" — leafs through what was once voted "the worst newspaper in England." From FT:

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The IPN's pages were filled with murders at home and abroad, assaults and outrages, accidents and macabre events, all described with gusto and luridly illustrated. For the fortean enthusiast, the IPN has a good deal to offer. Just like Charles Fort himself, the newspaper's editorial staff sifted an enormous amount of newspaper copy from Britain, Europe and the United States in their search for dastardly crimes and sensational stories. When there were no recent murders, curios ities of other kinds were pressed into service: ghosts, freaks and hermits, strange deaths and premature burials all featured over the years, and bizarre stories from the animal kingdom were also used on occasion to bolster the paper's contents: a swan is eaten by a boa constrictor; a monkey scalds a cat with a teapot; a man is attacked by a furious magpie; and a burglar is confronted by a razor-wielding orang-utan. When an old London tramp is attacked by hooligans, he is defended by his large troupe of trained rats. Fish fall from the sky, sea monsters attack, and in two separate incidents, a child and a dog are abducted by large eagles.

The main reason the IPN was such a scandal ous newspaper was its lewd and graphic illustrations, which outraged many people. Heads were crushed and limbs lopped off; blood spouted from knife wounds; children screamed in agony when bitten by dogs, and wives desperately begged for mercy when beaten by their brutal husbands. Images that would today seem amusing and burlesque – 'fast' women fighting or getting drunk, or a lady bicyclist flying through the air after being gored from behind by a bull – also infuriated the rather more prudish Victorians.