The Sporting Press in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century Britain:
Its Independence and Pierce Egan
Keiko IKEDA (Nara Women's University)
The first half of the nineteenth century was the period of several famous
zines: The Sporting Magazine (1792-1870), (Bell's) Weekly Dispatch (1801), and Bell's Life
in London (1822). Of this phenomenon, Tony Mason says that Bell's Life in London was the
first of the genre of weekly specialist sporting papers. The reason for the appearance of
Bell's Life in London was connected with the effect of the novel, Life in London (1820-
1821), which a popular sports journalist, Pierce Egan, had written. This novel is famous for
the great impact it had on young Charles Dickens.
Bell's Life in London established a status for itself in early Victorian society, in con-
trast with Egan's Sunday paper, Pierce Egan's Life in London and Sporting Guide (1824),
whose publication soon discontinued. That was due to the following facts. The publisher of
Bell's Life in London, Robert Bell, was jealous of the great success of Egan's novel and dis-
missed Egan from his position on the (Bell's) Weekly Dispatch in which Egan wrote a box-
ing column. It was obvious that Bell interrupted Egan's writing work by publishing the
weekly paper of the same title as his novel.
As the result of his new, enforced independence from Bell, Egan set up his 'Gallery for
Sporting Prints and all works connected with the sports of the Field, etc' (1824) ; and
launched from these premises his own Sunday newspaper. In spite of the support of many
people in 'the sporting world1, his newspaper was soon incorporated into Bell's Life in Lon-
don (1827). But this fact should not be considered as Bell's triumph over Egan. Because Bell
had been dead in 1825, Bell's Life in London was continued by its editor, Vincent Dowling,
with Egan's cooperation.
The themes which Egan adopted in his articles are very important for understanding the
broader notion of sport in those days. And his manner of writing is very peculiar to him.
He used sporting slang, cant, jargon, and other vulgarisms of those days. His style of writ-
ing fascinated many people of all ranks, except those who were very pious. Therefore Egan's
journalism may have contributed not only to giving the sport report an almost independent
existence, but to forming an early basis age of people's enthusiasm for the daily newspaper
as a medium.