Skip to main content

Reith, John, 1st Baron Reith

Reith, John, 1st Baron Reith (1889–1971). Reith stamped his image on the first 40 years of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The son of a minister of the Free Church of Scotland, ‘famous for his impassioned advocacy of righteousness in every department of human activity’ (as his son put it), he was born at Stonehaven in Kincardineshire. He began as a railway engineer and was badly wounded in the First World War. In 1922, at something of a loose end, he saw an advertisement for general manager of the new BBC and was appointed. Reith created his own vision of an austere, sober, and responsible corporation, with important educational and religious obligations. He stayed until 1938 and then went to Imperial Airways, but at the outbreak of war was brought into Parliament, serving as minister of information, minister of transport, and minister of works. He and Churchill disliked each other and he was abruptly dismissed in February 1942. Though after the war he held a number of important commercial posts, the draft title for his post-1938 memoirs was ‘Adrift’. A tall, gaunt, impressive, and fierce man, he had no concept of compromise and his diaries are full of unpleasant and savage remarks about colleagues. His conceit bordered on megalomania: with Churchill as prime minister, Reith deplored the lack of leadership—‘and I might have given it—a lot of it’. He was knighted in 1927 and given his barony in 1940.

J. A. Cannon

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Reith, John, 1st Baron Reith." The Oxford Companion to British History. . 20 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Reith, John, 1st Baron Reith." The Oxford Companion to British History. . (February 20, 2019).

"Reith, John, 1st Baron Reith." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.