100 Facts About Lord Beaverbrook


William Maxwell Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, PC, ONB, generally known as Lord Beaverbrook, was a Canadian-British newspaper publisher and backstage politician who was an influential figure in British media and politics of the first half of the 20th century.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,389

Lord Beaverbrook built the Daily Express into the most successful mass-circulation newspaper in the world, with sales of 2.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,390

Lord Beaverbrook used it to pursue personal campaigns, most notably for tariff reform and for the British Empire to become a free trade bloc.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,391

Lord Beaverbrook resigned due to ill-health in 1941 but later in the war was appointed Lord Privy Seal.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,392

Lord Beaverbrook spent his later life running his newspapers, which by then included the Evening Standard and the Sunday Express.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,393

Lord Beaverbrook served as Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick and developed a reputation as a historian with his books on political and military history.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,394

Lord Beaverbrook registered at the King's College Law School, but left after a short while.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,395

Lord Beaverbrook started a weekly magazine, the Canadian Century in 1910, invested in the Montreal Herald and almost acquired the Montreal Gazette.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,396

Lord Beaverbrook was wildly rich even then, but knew how to use his wealth in hospitality and by rescuing grand friends from awkward debts.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,397

Lord Beaverbrook was innovative in the employment of artists, photographers, and film makers to record life on the Western Front.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,398

Lord Beaverbrook initially considered "Lord Miramichi", but rejected it on the advice of Louise Manny as too difficult to pronounce.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,399

The name "Lord Beaverbrook" had the advantage of conveying a distinctive Canadian ring to the title.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,400

Lord Beaverbrook's controlling stake in the Daily Express became public knowledge later in 1917, and he was criticised by parts of the Conservative Party for financing a publication they regarded as irresponsible and often unhelpful to the party.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,401

In February 1918, Lord Beaverbrook became the first Minister of Information in the newly formed Ministry of Information, was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and was sworn of the Privy Council.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,402

Beaverbrook became responsible for propaganda in Allied and neutral countries and Lord Northcliffe became Director of Propaganda with control of propaganda in enemy countries.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,403

Lord Beaverbrook established the British War Memorials Committee within the Ministry, on lines similar to the earlier Canadian war art scheme, but when he established a private charity that would receive income from BWMC exhibitions, it was regarded as a conflict of interest and he dropped the scheme.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,404

Lord Beaverbrook had a number of clashes with the Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour over the use of intelligence material.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,405

Lord Beaverbrook felt that intelligence should become part of his department, but Balfour disagreed.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,406

Lord Beaverbrook increasingly came under attack from MPs who distrusted a press baron being employed by the state.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,407

Lord Beaverbrook survived but became increasingly frustrated with his limited role and influence, and in October 1918 he resigned due to ill-health.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,408

Taylor later wrote that Lord Beaverbrook was a pathbreaker who "invented all the methods of publicity" used by Britain to promote the war, including the nation's first war artists, the first war photographers, and the first makers of war films.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,409

Lord Beaverbrook was especially effective in promoting the sales of war bonds to the general public.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,410

Lord Beaverbrook turned the dull newspaper into a glittering and witty journal with an optimistic attitude, filled with an array of dramatic photo layouts.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,411

Lord Beaverbrook hired first-rate writers such as Francis Williams and the cartoonist David Low.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,412

Lord Beaverbrook embraced new technology and bought new presses to print the paper in Manchester.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,413

Lord Beaverbrook launched the Sunday Express in December 1918, but it only established a significant readership after John Junor became its editor in 1954.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,414

Lord Beaverbrook acquired a controlling stake in the Glasgow Evening Citizen, and in 1928 he launched the Scottish Daily Express.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,415

Lord Beaverbrook purchased The Vineyard, Fulham, a "tiny Tudor house in Hurlingham Road" where.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,416

Lord Beaverbrook enjoyed using his papers to attack his opponents and to promote his friends.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,417

Lord Beaverbrook was something of a firebrand, tending to overstatement and even irresponsibility in his editorials or public statements.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,418

Lord Beaverbrook was disliked by his employees as a demanding boss who had telephones installed in every room of his house so that he would always call his newspapers editors to give his orders about what story was interesting him at the moment without having to wait.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,419

Lord Beaverbrook's much vaulted principle of "independence" under which he felt free to attack his allies via his newspapers made him few friends.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,420

On 6 September 1919, Lord Beaverbrook ran on the front page of The Daily Express a banner headline, "ARCHANGEL SCANDAL EXPOSED: FAMOUS VC APPEALS TO THE NATION" above a public letter from Lieutenant Colonel John Sherwood-Kelly, a winner of the Victoria Cross, who attacked the intervention as pointless and singled out the War Secretary Winston Churchill as the author of an expedition that Sherwood-Kelly claimed had gone horribly wrong.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,421

Lord Beaverbrook began supporting independent Conservative candidates and campaigned for fifteen years to remove Stanley Baldwin from the leadership of the Conservative Party.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,422

However, after the Zinoviev letter was published, Lord Beaverbrook had the Daily Express in its coverage of 1924 election associate the Labour Party with Communism.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,423

In foreign policy, Lord Beaverbrook promoted a policy known as "empire isolationism", namely that Britain should devote its interests to the British empire, but be otherwise disengaged from the rest of the world.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,424

Likewise, Lord Beaverbrook was opposed to British membership in the League of Nations and in a 1923 leader advocated giving up the Palestine Mandate, which Britain held as the administrating power for the League, under the grounds that Palestine was more of a debit than a credit for the British empire.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,425

Lord Beaverbrook believed that protecting the greatness as he saw it of the empire could be best accomplished via "splendid isolation" as he consistently argued for an isolationist foreign policy.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,426

Lord Beaverbrook believed that because Britain had more people than what British agriculture was capable of feeding while the Dominions produced more food than what their people needed that a symbiotic relationship would be possible with British industry supplying the manufactured goods for the Dominions while the Dominions would supply food and other raw materials to Britain.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,427

Lord Beaverbrook had long resented Baldwin's leadership of the Conservative Party and the loss of his influence that had followed the resignation of Bonar Law in 1923.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,428

Lord Beaverbrook had privately "rejoiced" when the Conservatives lost the 1929 election, seeing Labour's victory as a chance to impose his views on the Conservative party, especially with regard to the Empire Free Trade zone.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,429

In July 1929, Lord Beaverbrook launched the Empire Crusade movement to campaign for the "Empire Free Trade zone", which attracted support from various Tory backbencher MPs, peers and local riding associations.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,430

In December 1929, Lord Beaverbrook set up a central office to co-ordinate the Empire Crusade movement.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,431

The United Empire Party was intended to split the right-wing vote to such an extent that it would be impossible for the Conservatives to ever win a general vote again, and in this way Rothermre and Lord Beaverbrook intended to impose their will on the Conservative party.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,432

Lord Beaverbrook frequently changed his views about Adolf Hitler, which his obituary writers much anguish as they were forced to change their drafts of a Hitler obituary from positive to negative to positive again.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,433

Lord Beaverbrook was to change his opinions about Hitler a number of times afterward.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,434

Lord Beaverbrook advocated that: "Britain should make no alliances except with the United States, that we should occur no obligations, no responsibilities, no liabilities outside of the Empire except in relation to the Anglo-Saxon race".

FactSnippet No. 2,386,435

Lord Beaverbrook supported the "limited liability" rearmament under which the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy were built up at the expense of the British Army as the rearmament program in best accord with his own foreign policy ideas.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,436

In 1935, Lord Beaverbrook campaigned against the Peace Ballot, an unofficial referendum organised in 1935 by the League of Nations Union, as the "Ballot of Blood".

FactSnippet No. 2,386,437

Lord Beaverbrook was concerned that if Britain should be obliged to enforce the collective security policies of the League of Nations against aggression, it could involve Britain in wars where no British interests were at stake.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,438

Likewise, when Germany remilitarised the Rhineland on 7 March 1936, violating both the Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Locarno, Lord Beaverbrook used his newspapers to argue against Britain taking action to enforce the treaties it had signed.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,439

Lord Beaverbrook concluded "while I am free, and my newspapers in the attitude I take to the Russian leader, I must say I admire and praise his conduct of government".

FactSnippet No. 2,386,440

In 1936, at the invitation of Joachim von Ribbentrop, the new German ambassador the Court of St James, Lord Beaverbrook attended the opening of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but quickly became bored with the Third Reich and soon returned to Britain.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,441

Lord Beaverbrook published the piece, but told Lloyd George that he was embarrassed by it as he stated disliked "the regimentation of opinion" in Germany.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,442

In regards to the Sino-Japanese war, Lord Beaverbrook was entirely concerned about a possible Japanese threat to the British empire and used the Daily Express to sound his fears that the Japanese might try to seize the British colonies in Asia.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,443

Lord Beaverbrook supported the Munich Agreement and hoped the newly named Duke of Windsor would seek a peace deal with Germany.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,444

The British historian Daniel Hucker wrote that Lord Beaverbrook was out of touch with the readers of his newspapers in the summer of 1939.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,445

Lord Beaverbrook was given almost dictatorial powers over all aspects of aircraft production.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,446

In June 1940, Lord Beaverbrook went with Churchill in a desperate mission to Tours to meet the French government with the aim of keeping France in the war.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,447

Unlike Churchill, Lord Beaverbrook did not see any particular importance of keeping France in the war, and was much more indifferent to the prospect of France being defeated than was the prime minister, arguing that Britain still had the Commonwealth and the empire.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,448

Lord Beaverbrook seized materials and equipment destined for other departments and was perpetually at odds with the Air Ministry.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,449

Lord Beaverbrook did not tolerate the arguments that supply "bottlenecks" were hindering aircraft production and required that aircraft manufacturer submit to him a daily list of "bottlenecks" which he made his mission to resolve.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,450

Lord Beaverbrook once promoted an Air Commodore to Air Vice-Marshal-over the heads of fifty more senior Air Commodores.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,451

However, it has been argued that aircraft production was already rising when Lord Beaverbrook took charge and that he was fortunate to inherit a system which was just beginning to bear fruit.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,452

Lord Beaverbrook gave us those machines, and I do not believe that I exaggerate when I say that no other man in England could have done so.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,453

Lord Beaverbrook resigned on 30 April 1941 and, after a month as Minister of State, Churchill appointed him to the post of Minister of Supply.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,454

Lord Beaverbrook was sent to interview Hess with orders to find out just what had motivated the deputy fuhrer to fly to Scotland.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,455

Lord Beaverbrook reported to Churchill that Hess was an exceedingly eccentric and strange man who believed that the war between Germany and Britain was a grave mistake.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,456

Lord Beaverbrook further stated that the best he could discern for Hess's motives was that he had told him that Germany was going to be invading the Soviet Union in the very near-future and now was the ideal time for the two "Nordic" nations to stop their pointless "fratricidal" war and join forces forces against the Soviet Union, whom Hess insisted was the common enemy of both nations.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,457

In 1941, Lord Beaverbrook headed the British delegation to Moscow with his American counterpart Averell Harriman.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,458

Lord Beaverbrook found Stalin to be a man much like himself who disliked committees as time-wasting, and preferred action over meetings.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,459

In February 1942, Lord Beaverbrook became Minister of War Production and again clashed with Bevin, this time over shipbuilding.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,460

Lord Beaverbrook was able to relate to Roosevelt in a different way to Churchill and became close to Roosevelt during these visits.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,461

Lord Beaverbrook devoted himself to Churchill's 1945 general election campaign, but a Daily Express headline warning that a Labour victory would amount to the 'Gestapo in Britain' was a huge mistake and completely misjudged the public mood.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,462

Lord Beaverbrook renounced his British citizenship and left the Conservative Party in 1951, but remained an Empire loyalist throughout his life.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,463

In 1947, Lord Beaverbrook was vehemently opposed to the plans to end the Raj with the colony of India to be granted independence and partitioned into the new nations of India and Pakistan.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,464

Lord Beaverbrook never forgave Mountbatten and for the rest of his life used the Daily Express to blacken his reputation and always presented Mountbatten in the worse possible light.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,465

Lord Beaverbrook took a typically idiosyncratic line with regard to the Cold War, holding out hopes in the editorial line of the Daily Express until 1948 that the wartime "Big Three" alliance of the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom should continue after the war.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,466

Lord Beaverbrook had Wilfred Burchett, an Australian journalist of extreme left-wing views based in East Berlin to run a column in The Daily Express entitled "The Russian Window" starting in October 1948.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,467

When Lord Beaverbrook asked the editor of the Daily Express, Arthur Christiansen about Burchett after reading several of his "Russian Window" columns, he was told: "He is, I think, a fellow traveler, but nevertheless an able chap".

FactSnippet No. 2,386,468

The photographs were later published in The Daily Worker which presented the executions as typical of justice in South Korea, and led to Lord Beaverbrook to complain that it was a shame that The Daily Express did not have those "real fine pictures".

FactSnippet No. 2,386,469

When Mountbatten was appointed First Sea Lord, the Beaverbrook newspapers went out of their way to portray the Royal Navy under Mountbatten's leadership in a negative light.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,470

Lord Beaverbrook was frequently unfaithful towards his wife, but he had a possessive of his mistresses.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,471

In 1956, Lord Beaverbrook used the Daily Express to clamor for war against Egypt after President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalised the partly British-owned Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez, an act that Lord Beaverbrook considered to be intolerable.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,472

Lord Beaverbrook regarded the end of the Suez crisis with Britain being forced to withdraw under strong American-Soviet pressure to be a national humiliation, and much of the anti-Americanism he was to express in his last years related to bitterness over the Suez crisis.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,473

Lord Beaverbrook likewise favored a hawkish line on the Cyprus Emergency as he used his newspapers to support keeping Cyprus a British colony and regarded the decision to grant Cyprus independence in 1960 again as a national humiliation.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,474

Lord Beaverbrook used his money and connections quietly to rescue many other lesser figures in trouble.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,475

Lord Beaverbrook opposed both Britain's acceptance of post-war loans from America and Britain's application to join the European Economic Community in 1961.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,476

Lord Beaverbrook was strongly opposed to the application and used his newspapers to offer ferocious criticism of Macmillan's application to join the EEC, accusing him of a betrayal of the Commonwealth whom Lord Beaverbrook continued to insist were Britain's natural allies.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,477

Lord Beaverbrook became the university's greatest benefactor, fulfilling the same role for the city of Fredericton and the province as a whole.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,478

Lord Beaverbrook would provide additional buildings for the university, scholarship funds, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the Beaverbrook Skating Rink, the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel, with profits donated to charity, the Playhouse, Louise Manny's early folklore work, and numerous other projects.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,479

Lord Beaverbrook bought the archive papers of both Bonar Law and David Lloyd George and placed them in the Beaverbrook Library within the Daily Express Building.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,480

Lord Beaverbrook remained a widower for many years until 1963 when he married Marcia Anastasia Christoforides, the widow of his friend Sir James Dunn.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,481

Lord Beaverbrook was rarely a faithful husband, and even in old age was often accused of treating women with disrespect.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,482

Lord Beaverbrook will be chucked out for trying to pull off a merger between Heaven and Hell after having secured a controlling interest in key subsidiary companies in both places, of course.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,483

Lord Beaverbrook was of an imperialist mindset, with the quote, "There are countries so underdeveloped today that the gift of independence is like the gift of a razor to a child" attributed to him in a panel discussion on Canadian TV.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,484

Lord Beaverbrook had recently attended a birthday banquet organised by fellow Canadian press baron, Lord Thomson of Fleet, where he was determined to be seen on his usual good form, despite suffering from cancer.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,485

In 1957, a bronze statue of Lord Beaverbrook was erected at the centre of Officers' Square in Fredericton, New Brunswick, paid for by money raised by children throughout the province.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,486

Lord Beaverbrook was one of eight notable Britons cited in Bjørge Lillelien's famous "Your boys took a hell of a beating" commentary at the end of an English football team defeat to Norway in 1981, mentioned alongside British Prime Ministers Churchill, Thatcher and Attlee.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,487

Sansom, Lord Beaverbrook serves as the collaborationist Prime Minister of a Nazi-occupied Britain.

FactSnippet No. 2,386,488