Latest Issue

Spanish Flu and the history of pandemic propaganda

Whether dampening reporting during the war, or running adverts for miracle cures, newspapers from the 1918 flu have a lot to teach us about how information moves in an epidemic

By Dr Harry Bennett  

The Spanish Flu pandemic—that would perhaps kill as many as 50 million people worldwide during its course—entered the consciousness of the British public relatively slowly. Without global organisations to draw attention to the outbreak, and online connections to allow the rapid transit of information around the globe, news travelled much more slowly when the ‘flu emerged in 1917.

During the early phase of the pandemic, the nature of the virus also had a role to play. The symptoms, which included bleeding from the mucus membranes—the nose, lungs, intestines etc—could sometimes result in misdiagnosis as doctors…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect