1st viscount rothermere

Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere

Harold Sidney Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere (26 April 186826 November 1940) was a highly successful British newspaper proprietor, owner of Associated Newspapers Ltd. He is known in particular, with his brother Alfred Harmsworth, the later Viscount Northcliffe, for the development of the London Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. He was a pioneer of popular journalism. He was also the elder brother of the Liberal politician Cecil Harmsworth, 1st Baron Harmsworth.

Newspaper proprietor

Harmsworth founded the Glasgow Daily Record, and the Sunday Pictorial, but his greatest success came with the Daily Mirror, which had a circulation of three million by 1922. His elder brother died without an heir in that year, and he acquired control of the Daily Mail.

Rothermere's descendants continue to control the Daily Mail and General Trust.

Public life

He served as President of the Air Council in the government of David Lloyd George for a time during World War I, and was raised to the peerage as Viscount Rothermere. In 1921, he founded the Anti-Waste League to combat what he saw as excessive government spending.

Revision of the post-WWI treaties

Rothermere strongly supported revision of the Treaty of Trianon in favour of Hungary. On June 21, 1927, he published in his Daily Mail an editorial titled Hungary's Place in the Sun, in which he supported a detailed plan to restore to Hungary large pieces of territory it lost at the end of the First World War. This baldly pro-Hungarian stance was greeted with ecstatic gratitude in Hungary.

Many in England were caught off-guard by Rothermere's impassioned endorsement of the Hungarian cause; it was rumoured that the press baron had been convinced to support it by the charms of a Hungarian seductress (she turned out to be Austrian). Rothermere's son Esmond was received with royal pomp during a visit to Budapest, and some political actors in Hungary later went so far as to inquire about Rothermere's interest in being placed on the Hungarian throne. Rothermere later insisted he did not invite these overtures, and that he quietly deflected them. His private correspondence indicates otherwise. He did purchase estates in Hungary in case Britain should fall to a Soviet invasion. There is a memorial to Rothermere in Budapest.


In later life Rothermere used his newspaper ownership in attempts to influence British politics, notably being a strong supporter of appeasement towards Nazi Germany, in part - it is thought - because of a shattering experience during WWI when he had three sons reported killed or missing in the same week. In the 1930s, he urged increased defence spending while being the owner of the only major newspapers to advocate an alliance with Germany. The Rothermere papers for a time in 1934 championed the British Union of Fascists (B.U.F), and were again the only major papers that did so.

In 1934, a Mercury-engined version of the Bristol Type 135 cabin monoplane was ordered by Rothermere for his own use as part of a campaign to popularise commercial aviation. First flying in 1935, the aircraft caused great interest in Air Ministry circles because its top speed of 307 mph was higher than that of any Royal Air Force fighter in service. Lord Rothermere presented the aircraft (named "Britain First") to the nation for evaluation as a bomber and in early 1936 the modified design was taken into production as the Blenheim Mk.I

Secret British government papers released in 2005 show that Rothermere wrote to Adolf Hitler congratulating him for the annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, and encouraged him to march into Romania. The MI5 papers also show that Rothermere paid a retainer of £5,000 per year to Stephanie Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst, a glamorous Austrian princess and German spy, intending that she should bring him closer to Hitler's inner circle. She was known as "London's leading Nazi hostess". The secret services had been monitoring her since she came to Britain in the 1920s and regarded her as "an extremely dangerous person". As World War II loomed, Rothermere stopped the payments and their relationship deteriorated into threats and lawsuits.

Grand Falls, Newfoundland

In 1904, on behalf of his older brother Alfred, Harmsworth and Mayson Beeton, son of Mrs Beeton the famed author of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, travelled to Newfoundland to search for a supply of lumber and to look for a site to build and operate a pulp and paper mill. While searching along the Exploits River they came across "Grand Falls", named by John Cartwright in 1768. After purchasing the land a company town was built and today is know as Grand Falls-Windsor.


Rothermere, Harold S.H., Warnings and Predictions, Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd., 1939


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