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Alfred Charles William HARMSWORTH (1865-1922)

Known As
Lord Northcliffe
Biographical Details

Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865-1922) was a British newspaper and publishing magnate. He was an early developer of popular journalism, and he exercised vast influence over British popular opinion during the Edwardian era.  From comments in their letters, it is obvious that neither Arthur or George Sladden were fans of Lord Northcliffe.

Northcliffe had a powerful role during the First World War.  By 1914, Northcliffe controlled 40% of the morning newspaper circulation in Britain, 45% of the evening and 15% of the Sunday circulation.  In an era before radio, television or internet, Northcliffe's ownership of The Times, the Daily Mail and other newspapers meant that his editorials influenced both “the classes and the masses”.

He criticized the government regarding the Shell Crisis of 1915, which helped to end the Liberal government of Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith, forcing Asquith to form a coalition government. Lord Northcliffe's newspapers propagandized for creating a Minister of Munitions (a job first held by David Lloyd George) and helped to bring about Lloyd George's appointment as prime minister during 1916. Lloyd George offered Lord Northcliffe a job in his cabinet, but Northcliffe refused and was appointed director for propaganda.

Northcliffe died on 14th August 1922, aged 57.

Letters mentioning this person: