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Harmsworth, Alfred, 1st Viscount Northcliffe

Harmsworth, Alfred, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865–1922). Newspaper proprietor. The eldest son of a Dublin barrister who moved to London in 1867, Northcliffe was largely self-educated. Attracted to journalism, he discovered that he had a natural aptitude for the profession. In 1887 he formed his own publishing house, which he ran with his brother Harold. The business acquired first the Evening News, later the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, the Observer, and, in 1908, The Times. He was created baron (1905) and viscount (1918). If Northcliffe injected into The Times a refreshing element of commercialism, it was even truer that he used his newspaper empire as a political weapon, denouncing government ministers and their policies whenever the fancy took him. Northcliffe was frequently accused of exercising power without responsibility; but the support of The Times was a factor in bringing about the Irish peace treaty of 1921, and his personal efforts as head of the British mission to the USA in 1917 were widely and rightly applauded.

Geoffrey Alderman

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