In the basement of The Spectator’s offices in Old Queen Street, there are piles of tomes detailing our rich publishing history right back to 1828. Our archive is our most prized possession and today, we’re delighted to share that. For the first time, both scanned and digitised copies of the magazine from July 1828 to December 2008 can be browsed online using the beta Spectator Archive. Everything in the last five years can of course be found on spectator.co.uk
The archive is a treasure trove. We have Simon Sebag Montefiore’s 1996 interview with the Spice Girls, Iain Macleod’s demolition of the Tory leadership from 1964, our trashing of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House in 1853, Jenny Nicholson’s controversial 1957 report on three prominent Labour trade unionists who ‘filled themselves like tanks with whisky and coffee’, the first national endorsement of Margaret Thatcher for Tory leader in 1975, Christopher Hitchens’ 1985 experience of being mugged in New York, Peter Oborne’s 2001 report on how Tony Blair tried to muscle in on the Queen Mother’s funeral and Bruce Anderson’s 2003 tip that David Cameron is the man to rescue the Tory party.
Our first ever leader from 1828 is also present, proclaiming ‘the principal object of a Newspaper is to convey intelligence. It is proposed in the Spectator to give this, the first and most prominent place, to a report of all the leading occurrences of the week’.
Digitising 1.5 million pages has been no easy feat and it remains a work in progress — we’re aware there are still a few gaps in the beta archive. And if you find any bad scans or missing articles, do leave a comment below.
As we told Ed Balls last year, we’ve been impugning integrity since 1828. The Spectator is the oldest continuously-published magazine in the English-speaking world, and the tone of the magazine has barely changed. As I hope you’ll enjoy discovering for yourselves.