The Daily Mirror is a British tabloid newspaper founded in 1903. Twice in its history, from 1985 to 1987, and from 1997 to 2002, the title on its masthead was changed to read simply The Mirror, which is how the paper is often referred to in popular parlance. The circulation of the Daily Mirror in September 2010 was 1,213,323 copies daily.
The Daily Mirror was launched on 2 November 1903 by Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe) as a newspaper for women, run by women. Hence the name: he said, “I intend it to be really a mirror of feminine life as well on its grave as on its lighter sides….to be entertaining without being frivolous, and serious without being dull”, and also invited men to read it. It cost one penny.
It was not an immediate success, and in 1904, he decided to turn it into a pictorial newspaper, changing the masthead to The Daily Illustrated Mirror and appointing Hamilton Fyfe as editor who then fired all the women journalists. This name ran from 26 January to 27 April 1904 (issues 72 to 150), then reverted to The Daily Mirror. The first issue did not have advertisements on the front page as previously, but instead news text and engraved pictures (of a traitor and an actress), with the promise of photographs inside. Two days later, the price was dropped to one halfpenny and to the masthead was added: “A paper for men and women”. This combination was more successful: by issue 92, the guaranteed circulation was 120,000 copies and by issue 269, it had grown to 200,000: by then the name had reverted and the front page was mainly photographs. Circulation grew to 466,000 making it the second largest morning newspaper.
Alfred Harmsworth sold the newspaper to his brother Harold Harmsworth (from 1914 Lord Rothermere) in 1913. In 1917, the price was increased to one penny. Circulation continued to grow: in 1919, some issues sold more than 1 million copies a day, making it the largest daily picture paper.
By the mid 1930s, the Mirror was struggling – it and the Mail were the main casualties of the early 1930s circulation war that saw the Daily Herald and the Daily Express establish circulations of more than two million, and Rothermere decided to sell his shares in it.