Launched in 1900 by Arthur Pearson as a mid-market broadsheet, the ha'penny Express was the first to devote its front page to news (rather than advertisements). When Pearson went blind, during the Great War, he sold the paper to the soon-to-be Lord Beaverbrook, the first "Fleet Street baron" and an evangelist of the free press.
By 1936, the right-wing Express had the world's largest circulation of more than two million, rising to four million in the 1940s. It was one of the first newspapers to carry gossip, sport and women's articles and the first to carry a crossword. With its commercial success and vast editorial staff around the world, it dominated Fleet Street. Its contributors run from the exiled Leon Trotsky to Evelyn Waugh (who lampooned Beaverbrook as Lord Copper - "up to a point"), William Hickey (Tom Driberg) and the cartoonist Giles. The Express became a (black-top) tabloid in 1978.