Even though some British newspaper offices left Fleet Street – a London street beginning from the City of London and ending at Westminster – it continues to be used as a synonym for the British national press. Fleet Street was considered as the home of the British Press until the 1980s. But back to the 16th century, Fleet Street meant even more. Even though printing press existed since the 15thcentury thanks to the Gutenberg’s invention, Fleet Street became a centre for all the printers only a century later. It was actually the heart of the press at this time. And London was without any doubt the largest city in England, and one of the biggest in Europe. It had a great influence on other European countries or cities. At this time, London meant a lot in terms of culture in Europe.Moreover, since the 15th century, the British capital was also a great European centre in terms of trade and later in terms of industry too. For instance, Great Britain was the first European country to undergo the industrial revolution in the 18th century. In the 16th century, London was a dangerous city but it was well organized. That was not a surprise if the industry of newspaper organized itself ina specific area of the city. The main question remains: Why was Fleet Street such a great centre of influence for all the printers? And above all, why London was such a great centre for the development of the serial publications? We will see which were the factors that made London so important for the beginnings of the newspapers. There are actually different kinds of facts that are important tounderstand why serial publication was born in London.
First of all, we already talked about the importance of London in terms of trade and techniques. London was really a great economic centre in the entire Europe at this time. In the 16th century, London became one of the most important European commercial centres. This was the period when was born mercantilism and monopoly tradingcompanies. According to Michael Harris, the rapid expansion of the newspaper in London was also “based on a combination of commercial speculation”. Thus, London was a key place for everything related to trade. That is one of the factors that made London such a great place for the birth of the newspaper industry. There were many merchants who settled down in London. Their status improved and they werebetter considered during the 17th century. They represented an important part in the country’s wealth. Actually, during the 17th century, London became richer and wealthier. The St Paul’s area was already the centre of the book trade. That’s probably one of the reasons why printers established themselves not very far away from it. Moreover, with the increase of the merchant class were born the needsfor printed information but also entertaining readings. In addition, as Michael Harris wrote in his book London Newspapers in the age of Walpole: “The establishment of any form of paper in the increasingly crowded London market required a certain amount of capital investment”. Thus, it was also necessary for the printers to establish themselves not far away from the ones who could give them themoney they needed.
Gutenberg in Germany invented the printing press in the 15th century. But this technique was not used at first. William Caxton published the first book in English only at the mid-1470s after having learnt how to use printing press in Germany. Fleet Street’s story began with his assistant, Wynkin de Worde, at the very beginning of the 16th century when he moved from Westminster toFleet Street. There were already some printers in the area but de Worde was probably the most popular one. London was a great city where a lot of the techniques were invented or tested. Thanks to its status, London became one of the most advanced cities in Europe.
Moreover, in the 16th century, many people came to settle down in London. Immigrants arrived in London from all over England and...
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