The Observer and J. L. Garvin, 1908-1914: A Study in a Great Editorship

The Observer and J. L. Garvin, 1908-1914: A Study in a Great Editorship

The Observer and J. L. Garvin, 1908-1914: A Study in a Great Editorship

The Observer and J. L. Garvin, 1908-1914: A Study in a Great Editorship


Founded in December 1791 on a capital of one hundred pounds, by W. S. Bourne, a young Irishman, The Observer is the oldest of our national Sunday newspapers. The Trustees have sought to gain access to the documents upon which a history of the paper and its contribution to English politics and society could be based.

They found that at this stage the documents for a complete history of The Observer could not be made available. At the same time the material for an important period of the paper has come within their possession, or has been lent to them, and the following volume is the result. Detailed acknowledgements are made in the author's preface.

The Trustees decided not to publish an official history but to ask a young historian to write an independent account of the paper, and they have for this purpose placed all the documents at the disposal of Dr. A. M. Gollin.

This volume is Dr. Gollin's assessment and has not been revised or amended by the Trustees or by anyone associated with the paper. It deals not only with a most important period in the career ofJ. L. Garvin as Editor, but also records the history of the paper at a period when its influence upon English politics was of very considerable importance.

The Trustees wish to extend their thanks to Dr. Gollin for his labours on this history. He has a detachment which belongs to one whose early life was spent in the United States, but his intimate knowledge of contemporary British history, which is shown in this volume, comes from a long stay in England which began during the period of his study of history at Oxford.

Roughly half-way through the period surveyed in this volume The Observer became the property of the late Viscount Astor. Later, he made over a part of the ownership to his son,David Astor, who is the present Editor. In 1945 they decided to vest the ownership of The Observer in a Trust. The Trustees were enjoined to maintain The Observer as an independent journal of the highest quality and to preserve the best traditions of British journalism.

While this volume surveys only seven of the one hundred and sixty-six years of the history of the paper, it is the hope of the Trustees that at some later date when all the material is at their disposal they will be able to record other stages in the development of the paper.

IFOR EVANS Chairman, The Observer Trust . . .

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