The Observer First Published
The 4th of December 1791 AD
The Observer has been through many incarnations in its history, anti-government, gossip sheet, liberal, conservative, and for a period part of the empire of Tiny Rowland , famous for his involvement in the affair described by Edward Heath as 'the unacceptable face of capitalism'. In modern times it has been seen as a liberal publication with a reputation for serious reporting, though of late an even more notable aspect of the paper is its hernia inducing volume of supplements and sections.
The paper was started in 1791 by the less than prescient businessman WS Bourne who borrowed £100 to set it up, telling his friends that it would make him a rapid fortune. Three years later he and his newspaper faced the then huge debts of £1,600.
Early stories included Louis XVI's ill-judged flight to Varennes, and the rapid downfall of the French monarchy.
But Bourne had dreamt up a great innovation, the first Sunday newspaper, entertainment on a day when little else was going on, and providing a summary of the week's events.
Having failed to sell his brainchild to anti-government parties, in spite of his promotion of the paper as of independent view, Bourne tried in desperation to flog the paper to the government of the day. In 1991, 200 years after The Observer was established, its losses for the year were around £10 million, rather putting Bourne's dilemma into the shade.
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