A staggering 200 years of newspaper history is soon going to be available online for the public to browse.

The Times newspaper is to put every issue published between 1785 and 1985 online in a new, and free, searchable archive.

The papers have been digitised to appear exactly as they would have done in print, and more copies are being added every day, along with editions of The Sunday Times.

The archive will include a massive 20m articles, adverts and photographs.

Content includes letters to the Editor from figures such as Thomas Hardy, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Queen Victoria, Charles Darwin, Mussolini and Ian Fleming.

From today - visitors will be able to search, click and drag the newspaper pages on their screens and save, print and email articles.

The archive site also contains 150 topic pages covering subjects such as Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, the Crimean War and Scott of the Antarctic.

The topic pages include galleries of archive photographs and behind-the-scenes features and videos revealing how historic news events were brought to the pages of The Times.