On 4 December 1869 the first number of a new magazine appeared: The Graphic, 'An Illustrated Weekly Newspaper: Price Sixpence or by post Sixpence Halfpenny'. Illustrated journalism was not new: The Illustrated London News had been in existence since 1841, as had Punch) or the London Charivari, and both had their imitators. By the sixties, the journal with wood engravings was a well-established source of information and what we would now term 'feature' or 'background' pieces, concerned not with breaking news items but with expanding on recent events or discussing issues of topical interest. But what was new about The Graphic was the way in which it used skilled, representational artists of the highest calibre to produce the drawings from which the engravings were made, and the way in which they approached their subjects. To understand what made The Graphic both part of this tradition and different from it, we need to look briefly at the complex set of circumstances and influences from which these magazines grew, and the nature and function of their illustrative engravings.