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History is recalled in a special number of the ILN published in September 1989 - “1939 as reported by The Illustrated London News”


(Appendix List No. 181). The build-up to war and all the significant events of 1939 are recorded in these pages just as they happened and as they were reported in the pages of the ILN and two other illustrated periodicals of the time, the Sphere and the Sketch. They provide a vivid and memorable portrait of a year that changed the world more dramatically than anyone who lived through it can have believed possible.
The cover shows the outer wrapper of the magazine for September 30, 1939, with a ‘burn’ in the centre through which the blackened figures of Hitler and his Nazi henchmen can be discerned. The figures 1939’ in white appear against
the charred page. It consists of 96 pages, measures 32 x 22 cm and was priced at two pounds seventy five pence.

Ever since the pictorial cover displaced the advertising cover in 1965 it has largely been a matter of personal choice as to which issues may be considered special numbers. These are the ones which have been described in the main text of the article. However, there are certain issues which either reflect in depth a highlight in national or international affairs or simply provide a striking record of an ephemeral episode. examples of a dozen such are listed here in order to give an indication of what is available.
The Queen’s Visit to the West Indies.
March 12, 1966. No. 6606, vol. 248

England wins the World Cup at Wembley.
August 6, 1966. No. 6627, vol. 249

Prince Charles comes of Age.
November 19, 1966. No. 6642, vol. 249

The Six Day War between Israel and Egypt.
June 24, 1967. No. 6672, vol. 250

Canada’s Centenary.
July 15, 1967. No. 6676, vol. 251.

The Invasion of Czechoslovakia.
August 31, 1968. No. 6735, vol. 253.

The Royal Tour of South America.
November 16, 1968. No. 6746, vol. 253.

The General Election: The Two Leaders.
May, 1979. No. 6970, vol. 267.

The Falklands Crisis.
May, 1982. No. 7006, vol. 270.

The Pope in Britain,
June, 1982. No.7007, vol. 270.

D-Day + 40: Special Anniversary Feature.
June, 1984. No. 7031, vol. 272.

Victory in Europe: special 40th

Anniversary feature. May, 1985 No. 7042.vol. 273.

Mention must finally be made of the later history of the ILN. After more than 120 years as a privately run concern, the Ingram family transferred ownership of the magazine to the Thomson Organisation in 1961.
In 1971 the magazine switched from a weekly magazine to a monthly one since the communications revolution (mainly in the forms of television, the growth of the popular press and the proliferation of colour supplements attached to high circulation newspapers) had done away with the need for a weekly news forum:
In 1985 Thomson’s sold the magazine to James Sherwood, but in 1988 a static circulation and declining advertising revenues dictated a further reduction of frequency to only 6 issues a year: a quarterly magazine, ‘The Royal Year’ and the Christmas number.
Yet, despite this retrenchment, the essential philosophy of the magazine still holds firm: to sort out the significant from the trivial and to report history rather than news.


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