The history of Leicesters printing press

In a feature entitled 'Printing in Leicester', Dr John Hinks from the Centre for Urban History has discussed the ups and downs of Leicester's printing press throughout history.

In the piece he explains how the earliest surviving item printed in Leicester is a broadside printed by Matthew Unwin relating to the execution of John Flawn on 15 August 1741. Typically, the single sheet contains on one side an account of Flawn’s trial and on the other his ‘confession’, whether or not authentic. John Gregory, the town’s second printer, established the town’s first newspaper, the Leicester Journal.

He also discusses other printers of note in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, including Anne Ireland, Leicester’s outstanding female printer/bookseller, who ran a thriving business where she attracted the gentry of town and county and Richard Phillips, the first of many Leicester printers who held radical political views - he was imprisoned in 1793 for selling seditious works and edited his radical newspaper, the Leicester Herald, from his prison cell.

He also notes that artistic printmaking still flourishes locally, with Leicester Print Workshop, a regional centre of excellence, moving to large new premises in the Cultural Quarter later this year.

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