William Henry Smith(1825-1891), Newsagent and politician, First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Commons
Sitter in 27 portraits
At the age of twenty-one he became a partner in his father's newsagent business. Although his father wished to confine the business to an agency selling newspapers, Smith rented a bookstall at Euston Station in 1848. He developed a network of railway bookstalls widely, and by 1862 had secured exclusive bookstall rights on all the important English railway systems. Though he had entered the business reluctantly, he became one of the best-known Victorian capitalists, whose name in the mid-nineteenth century was a byword for mass distribution. In 1868, he was elected as a Conservative MP and was appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury six years later. In 1877, he became First Lord of the Admiralty.
Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below
by John Proctor
wood engraving, published in Judy or The London Serio-Comic Journal 25 November 1868
published by Frederick Arnold, after Unknown artist
lithograph, published in the Hornet 5 July 1871
by Adriano Cecioni
chromolithograph, published in Vanity Fair 9 March 1872
Watch our playlist exploring scientific techniques used by the Gallery to unlock the secrets behind our Tudor portraits.
Subjects and themes
Search the collection by themes - from pets to weddings!
Black History Month
Take a tour exploring our Collection created by Alayo Akinkugbe for Black History Month in 2020.
A Picture of Health
Learn about pioneers in medicine, health and social reform from 1840 to 1920.