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  • James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming learnt his writing skill as a Reuters correspondent and later became a foreign manager at a newspaper group acquired by Thomson.
  • A report on the assassination of President Lincoln was thrown into the sea and then retrieved in outsize shrimping nets to give Reuters an early market-moving scoop in Europe.
  • A Reuters dispatch concealed in a train driver’s sandwich in Africa drove London “stark, raving mad” and gave birth to a new verb, "to maffick", in dictionaries.
  • Six fast donkeys were part of an elaborate communications system assembled by Reuters to get out the story of a 3,000-year-old king - a scoop gained by a shrewd bluff.
  • Reuters was first with news of the closure of the border between East and West Berlin after a mysterious tip-off and first again when the wall dividing the city came down 28 years later.

These and many other stories in Reuters’ distinguished history are to be found in documents held within the company archives, a rich repository of fact and anecdote.

They were explored for A Glimpse of the Archives, a series of 10 monographs on four famous authors who had worked for Reuters and six world-shaking events that were significant news file landmarks over the course of a century.

Basil Chapman* (Reuters 1953-1983), former assistant world services editor, returned from retirement to research and write them. Each one was illustrated by a specially commissioned caricature drawn by British cartoonist David Smith. They were first published in Reuters World, the staff magazine, in 1988. Enlargements were printed on art paper, framed and hung in Reuters’ offices around the world. The caricatures are the copyright of David Smith and are reproduced with his permission.

*Basil Chapman died on 20 August 2008 aged 90.

The author of many of the more recent articles based on historical records is John Entwisle, manager of the Reuters Archive. ■

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