Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Harold Harmsworth

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July 1894.

Harold Sidney Harmsworth, first Viscount Rothermere (1868–1940), newspaper proprietor.

The financially astute brother of Alfred Harmsworth

1868 Born in Hampstead, the second son of Alfred Harmsworth (1837–1889), and his wife, Geraldine Mary Maffett.

1888 Alfred started Answers a topical paper, in a small office in London. Harold joined his brother's newspaper enterprise, showing a flair for financial management

1890 Alfred and Harold launched Comic Cuts, a pictorial magazine aimed at adults who read little or nothing. Together the brothers built up the Amalgamated Press Company, whose profits soon reached £50,000 a year; within five years Answers alone was recording net weekly sales of more than 1 million copies.

1894 He and his brother purchased the Evening News for £25,000; it soon became a valuable property.

1896 The brothers launched the Daily Mail, a daily newspaper for the lower middle-class clerks and office workers travelling daily to the City.

They founded the Daily Mirror that, by 1914, Alfred had turned over to Harold.

1910 Harold acquired the Glasgow Record and Mail

1910 Harmsworth became a baronet

1914 Became Baron Rothermere.

1915 Harold acquired the Sunday Pictorial.

1916 Became the director-general of the royal army clothing department

1917 Appointed air minister.

1918 Both Rothermere and Trenchard resigned after an argument between them which was elevated to the highest levels of government.

1919 Made Viscount Rothermere

By 1921 he owned the Daily Mirror, Sunday Pictorial, Glasgow Daily Record, Evening News, and Sunday Mail, and shared ownership of Associated Newspapers with Alfred.

1922 After the death of his brother, Harold acquired his controlling interest in Associated Newspapers, for £1.6 million, selling The Times.

1923 Bought the Hulton Press newspaper chain, taking control of 3 national morning newspapers, three national Sunday papers, two London evening papers, four provincial dailies, and three provincial Sunday newspapers.

c.1926 Moved into provincial newspapers, challenging the supremacy of the Berry brothers, who had acquired Amalgamated Press.

1928 Formed Northcliffe Newspapers Ltd and declared his intention of starting a chain of evening papers in the main provincial cities. The consequent 'newspaper war' of 1928–9 resulted in him founding new evening papers in Bristol and Derby, and obtaining a controlling interest in Cardiff's newspapers.

By the end of 1929 he owned 14 daily and Sunday newspapers, with a substantial holding in another three.

1931 Sold his interest in Beaverbrook's papers

1934 Commissioned the construction of an aircraft (the "Britain First") which he offered in August 1935 to the Royal Air Force as a "peace gift"; it later became the Blenheim bomber.

1937 Handed control of Associated Newspapers to his son

1940 Died in Bermuda

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Harold Harmsworth, ODNB