Knight, Charles 1791 - 1873


Charles Knight was born in Windsor in 1791, the son of a bookseller and printer, to whom he was apprenticed in 1805. He worked with his father for three years, learning the print trade. In 1810, Knight founded an unsuccessful reading club for young men in Windsor. On completion of his apprenticeship in 1812, he became the joint proprietor with his father and the sole editor of the Windsor and Eton Express, the borough's first newspaper. In 1818 he was appointed as an overseer of the poor. This role perhaps influenced his denouncement, in 1819, of cheap publications as irreligious and anti-government. Knight called for the provision of more ‘healthful’ literature, and in 1820 he started publication of a monthly serial entitled the Plain Englishman. This was followed in 1823 by Knight's Quarterly Magazine. From 1827 Knight was a reader and superintendent for the publications of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK), and the following year he undertook a tour of the midlands industrial towns to organize local committees for the SDUK. In 1832 Knight began publication of the Penny Magazine, which was aimed primarily at a working-class readership and served up a wholesome diet of informative articles on art, literature, natural history, science, history, and biography (but not politics or religion). Knight became an early member of the Reform Club in 1834, and in 1837 played a part in the establishment of the penny post. He became publisher to the General Board of Health in 1853, and in 1855 acted as a juror at the Paris Universal Exhibition. Charles Knight died at Addlestone, Surrey on 9 March 1873. A gateway was erected in his memory at the cemetery adjacent to Bachelors Acre in Windsor, where he was buried.