The Chief, Andrew Roberts ( paperback August 2023)
The Chief : The Life of Lord Northcliffe Britain's Greatest Press Baron
A definitive and compelling biography of Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865-1922), the greatest press magnate in history, the genius who invented modern popular journalism, and against whom all the other great newspaper proprietors must be measured. By the time of his tragically early death at 57 in August 1922, Northcliffe had founded the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, and had also owned The Times and the Observer. At one point he owned two-thirds of all the titles on Fleet Street.
He laid down the essential features of British popular journalism that we see now. He was a tough and uncompromising businessman, but in The Chief Andrew Roberts puts his ruthlessness and wilfulness in the overall context of a life of visionary business skill, journalistic brilliance, distinguished wartime public service and heartfelt patriotism. From a modest background, growing up on the outskirts of Dublin, by 27 he presided over a magazine empire with the largest circulation in the world.
He wanted his readers to know that he was on their side, which they instinctively did. He was proud of his populist approach, saw the importance of appealing to both sexes in his pages, and allowed his editors leeway so long as they understood and followed his vision.