King, Cecil (Harmsworth) (1901-1987)

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King, Cecil (Harmsworth) (1901-1987)

British newspaper tycoon who was sympathetic to Spiritualism and sponsored psychical research. King was born on February 20, 1901, in London and was educated at Christ Church, Oxford University. In 1951 he became chair of Daily Mirror Newspapers, Ltd. (1951-63), and then chairman of International Publishing Corporation, which included the Daily Mirror and some two hundred other papers and magazines, (1963-68). Through the 1960s he was also chair of Reed Paper Group (1963-68), a director of the Bank of England (1965-68), and chair of the Newspaper Proprietors Association (1961-68).

In addition to his newspaper and journalistic activities, King also wrote several books on history and current events. His second wife was Dame Ruth Railton, whom he married in 1962. She was a medium, and King publicly acknowledged her psychic gift at a meeting of the Royal Institution on the subject of ESP in 1969.

In 1964 readers of King's newspaper, the Daily Mirror, were invited to take part in a telepathy experiment. King donated a substantial sum of money to finance telepathy and clairvoyance experiments by three Oxford graduates who formed the Psycho-Physical Research Unit. He also provided funds for the Society for Psychical Research, London, which he and Dame Ruth joined in 1968. In 1970 he endorsed the phenomena of the musical medium Rosemary Brown.

In a speech at a Psychic News function in 1973, King stated: "It has seemed to me for many years that the only way out of the materialism of our society and our contempt for spiritual values will come from knowledge and wisdom in the general area covered by Psychic News. If we are to have a revival of religionand this must come some dayit would seem that the work of Spiritualists may lead the way into realms of discovery ignored by ecclesiastical officialdom of today."

King was a guest of honor at a Psychic News dinner and dance in 1973, when he paid tribute to his wife's psychic gifts: "Her presence by my side is a constant reminder that there is more in heaven and Earth than atheists, skeptics, and some scientists suppose." King was not a Spiritualist and had never attended a séance but accepted the psychic gifts of his wife.

King had great affection for Ireland and the Irish people, and in 1974 he and his wife retired to Dublin. He died at his home in Dublin on April 17, 1987, at age 86. An obituary in the Psychic News (May 2, 1987) revealed that King had known the former editor, Maurice Barbanell, for some 40 years. King was quoted as saying, "We collaborated in our newspapers in reporting the psychic experiences of well-known mediums of the period, in particular Estelle Roberts. "