The newspaper was first published on October 1, 1843, in London by John Browne Bell. Priced at just three pence, even before the repeal of the Stamp Act (1855) or paper duty (1861), it was the cheapest newspaper of its time and was aimed directly at the newly literate working classes. It quickly established itself as a purveyor of titillation, shock and criminal news. Despite being dismissed as a "scandal sheet" it soon established itself as the most widely read Sunday paper. Initial sales were around 12,000 copies a week. This success encouraged other similar newspapers, of which the Sunday People, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror are still being published.
Its slogan was, "All human life is there".
The newspaper passed into the hands of Murdoch's News Ltd. in 1969, snatching the paper from Robert Maxwell's Pergamon Press after a year-long struggle. It was Murdoch's first "Fleet Street" acquisition. Maxwell had been supported by the Jackson family (25% shareholders), but Murdoch had gained the support of the Carr family (30%) and then-chairman William Carr.
The newspaper has often had to defend itself from libel charges as a result of certain news-gathering techniques and contentious campaigns.
See also: Junk food news