William Woodfall, the son of a printer and publisher of the Public Advertiser, was born in London in 1739. After being educated at Twickenham and St. Paul's School, Woodfall was apprenticed to his father.
When his father retired, Woodfall took over the publishing of the Public Advertiser. In 1769 Woodfall became the founding editor of the Morning Chronicle and pioneered the idea of Parliamentary reporting. As note-taking was not allowed in the House of Commons, he had to remember what was said and write it down afterwards.
Woodfall's reporting sometimes upset MPs and on one occasion was sued for libel by Edmund Burke. In 1779 Woodfall was prosecuted for printing and publishing a handbill supporting the acquittal of Admiral Keppell. Woodfall was found guilty and sentenced to twelve months in Newgate Prison.
In 1789 the Morning Chronicle was taken over by James Perry. Four years later, Woodfall also sold the Public Advertiser.
William Woodfall died in 1803.