A brief history of The Observer
As befits the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world, the history of The Observer is a volatile and varied one.

Founded on 4 December 1791 by WS Bourne, The Observer’s launch issue expressed its commitment to the free communication of truth.

In its 200-year history, The Observer has covered everything from the death of Mozart to the birth of the first cloned mammal. Revolutions, wars, famines and disasters have all shared space with celebrations of mankind’s achievements in the arts, science, literature and sport.
The Observer timeline
The Observer relaunches in Berliner format, the UK's only full-colour Sunday newspaper. A new monthly magazine, Observer Woman is introduced.
Observer.co.uk and The Observer Sport Monthly, the first of four innovative monthly magazines, are launched.
Roger Alton, the current editor, was appointed. Later being named Editor of the Year in the 2000 What the Papers Say newspaper awards.
The Guardian Media Group bought The Observer, snatching it from The Independent, who wanted to merge it with The Independent on Sunday. The prospect of the closure of The Observer spurred more than 100 MPs to sign a House of Commons motion calling for The Observer to be sold to the Guardian Media Group. Jonathan Fenby was appointed editor.
Donald Trelford was appointed editor, staying for 18 turbulent years during which he fought to find new owners and save the paper from extinction. He played crucial roles in, first, finding shelter under the wing of Atlantic Richfield, the US oil company in 1977, and then Tiny Rowland’s Lonrho in 1981.
The Observer could not agree with Anthony Eden’s handling of the Suez crisis, and became the first national newspaper to break ranks with the status quo that backed an invasion. ?We had not realised that our Government was capable of such folly and such crookedness,’ said the paper. It was to cost The Observer dear, at a time when it had just beaten the Sunday Times in circulation. Thousands of readers deserted the paper.
David Astor began 27 years in the editor’s chair, during which time he established the paper as one of the country’s primary voices of liberalism and freethinking, famous for good writing and incisive, well-argued opinion.
William Waldorf Astor buys The Observer, subsequently giving it to his son Waldorf. In 1945 ownership was transferred to a Trust, which stated that any profit must be used to improve the newspaper, promote good journalism or for charitable purposes.
Julius Beer, a wealthy businessman, acquired the paper. Edward Dicey was appointed editor. After Julius Beer’s death in 1891, the paper passed to his son Frederick. His wife Rachel edited the paper, latterly in tandem with editing the Times, which she bought 1893.
The Observer, the world’s first Sunday newspaper, is published for the first time on Sunday 4 December 1791.
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