Open main menu

Henry Hamilton Fyfe (29 September 1869 – 15 June 1951) was a British journalist and writer who was editor of both the newspapers the Daily Mirror and the Daily Herald.

Hamilton Fyfe
Hamilton Fyfe.jpg
Born(1869-06-10)10 June 1869
London, England
Died15 July 1951(1951-07-15) (aged 82)
Eastbourne, East Sussex, England
OccupationJournalist and editor
Spouse(s)Eleanor Kelly
RelativesWilliam Hamilton Fyfe (brother)


Born in London, and educated at Fettes College, Edinburgh, Fyfe was the son of James Hamilton Fyfe, a barrister and journalist, and his wife Mary. He joined the staff of The Times at the age of seventeen, where he worked as a reporter and reviewer before becoming secretary to the editor, George Earle Buckle. In 1902, he was named editor of the Morning Advertiser, the trade publication of the Licensed Victuallers' Association. Though his attempts to improve the paper soon brought him into conflict with the paper's owners, the disputes attracted the attention of the press tycoon Alfred Harmsworth, who offered Fyfe the opportunity to transform the struggling Daily Mirror the next year. Fyfe accepted Harmsworth's offer, and converted the paper from a publication catering for women readers into a popular newspaper by the use of photojournalism.[1]

Hamilton Fyfe in uniform during World War I

In 1907, Fyfe ended his editorship of the Daily Mirror to become a reporter for another Harmsworth publication, the Daily Mail. He gained considerable renown during this period, initially by covering aviation feats such as Louis Blériot's successful crossing of the English Channel. He also covered Venustiano Carranza's overthrow of the Huerta regime in Mexico as well as the growing tension in Ulster in 1914. At the start of World War I he was sent to France, where he scored further success early on with his reports of the Great Retreat from Mons. During the war, he filed reports from Russia, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, before aiding Harmsworth (by now Lord Northcliffe) in his propaganda efforts for the British government.[1]

Fyfe's 1920 play The Kingdom, The Power and The Glory provoked controversy because of its criticisms of monarchy.[2]

A political leftist, Fyfe nonetheless liked the conservative Northcliffe and enjoyed a good relationship with him until the latter's mental deterioration after the war. After Northcliffe's death in 1922, Fyfe agreed to edit the Daily Herald. During his tenure there, he succeeded in nearly quadrupling the paper's circulation but disputed with the editorial board, which was dominated by members of the Trades Union Congress. In 1926, he quit the editorship to accept a job as a reporter with the Daily Chronicle, working there until the newspaper's merger with the Daily News four years later. During this period, he campaigned unsuccessfully for Parliament as a Labour Party candidate, firstly for Sevenoaks in the general election of 1929 and then for Yeovil in 1931.[1] Fyfe's 1940 book The Illusion of National Character was a critique of nationalism published by the Thinker's Library.[3]

After he quit the Daily Chronicle, Fyfe concentrated on his independent writing. His success as a playwright dated to 1909 with the first performance of A Modern Aspasia; he also wrote a number of biographies of writers and journalists culminating in his own memoirs, Sixty Years of Fleet Street, which was published two years before his death at a nursing home in Sussex.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d H. B. Grimsditch, rev. A. J. A. Morris, "Fyfe, Henry Hamilton", in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), vol. 21, pp.222-3.
  2. ^ Steve Nicholson, The Censorship of British Drama, 1900-1968 University of Exeter Press, 2003 ISBN 0859896382, (p. 243).
  3. ^ "Nationalism and World Peace" (Review of The Illusion of National Character, The Age, 28 June 1947, (p.4).

External linksEdit

Media offices
Preceded by
F. G. Doney
Editor of the Morning Advertiser
Succeeded by
G. W. Talbot
Preceded by
Mary Howarth
Editor of the Daily Mirror
Succeeded by
Alexander Kenealy
Preceded by
William Patrick Ryan
Editor of the Daily Herald
Succeeded by
William Mellor