Harold Evans

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Harold Evans
Sir Harold Evans 6 Shankbone 2009 NYC.jpg
Evans in New York City, November 2009
Born Harold Matthew Evans
(1928-06-28) 28 June 1928 (age 95)
Newton Heath, Manchester, England, UK
Nationality British, American
Alma mater Durham University
Occupation Journalist, editor in chief
Notable credit(s) The Sunday Times
The Week Magazine
The Guardian
BBC Radio 4
Spouse(s) Tina Brown
Children George, Izzy

Sir Harold Matthew Evans (born 28 June 1928) is a British-born journalist and writer who was editor of The Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981.

In 1984 he moved to the United States, where he had leading positions in journalism with US News and World Report, The Atlantic Monthly, and the New York Daily News. In 1986 he founded Conde Nast Traveler. He has written various books on history and journalism, with his The American Century (1998) receiving particular acclaim. In 2000, he retired from leadership positions in journalism to spend more time on his writing. Since 2001, Evans has served as editor-at-large of The Week magazine and, since 2005, he has been a contributor to The Guardian and BBC Radio 4.

On 13 June 2011 Evans was appointed editor-at-large of the Reuters news agency.[1]

Early life and education

Harold Matthew Evans was born at 39 Renshaw Street, Patricroft, Eccles, to Welsh parents, whom he described in his 2009 memoir as "the self-consciously respectable working class".[2] He grew up in Newton Heath, Manchester, where he attended Brookdale High School Newton Heath. Among his classmates was Alf Morris, later knighted, who nicknamed him "Poshie" because he was the only boy in the school whose father, a railway train driver, owned a car. His mother also worked, running a grocery store from their house.

Early career

Evans began his career as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, at 16 years old. After completing his national service in the Royal Air Force, he entered Durham University, after contacting every one of the fourteen universities in Great Britain at the time.[2] There, he edited the university newspaper, Palatinate. He graduated with honours in politics and economics and subsequently earned a Master of Arts degree for a thesis on foreign policy.

He became an assistant editor of the Manchester Evening News and won a Harkness Fellowship in 1956–57 for travel and study in the United States. (Nicholas Lemann noted that he "joined a long line of British journalists" who did similar studies, from Alistair Cooke to Andrew Sullivan.)[2] Evans was impressed with American newspapers' efforts in investigative journalism. He began to gain a reputation on his return from the U.S. when he was appointed editor of the regional daily The Northern Echo. One of his journalistic campaigns resulted in a national programme for the detection of cervical cancer.

The Sunday Times

During his 14-year tenure as editor of the Sunday Times, Evans was responsible for its crusading style of investigative reporting, which brought to public attention many stories and scandals that were officially denied or ignored. One such report was about the plight of hundreds of British children who suffered the birth defects due to Thalidomide. They had never received compensation from the drug manufacturers. He organized a campaign by the newspaper's Insight investigative team, and Evans took on the drug companies responsible for the manufacture of Thalidomide, pursuing them through the English courts and eventually gaining victory in the European Court of Human Rights. As a result, the victims' families won compensation after more than a decade. Moreover, the British Government was compelled to change the law inhibiting the reporting of civil cases.

Other influential investigative reports included the exposure of Kim Philby as a Soviet spy and the publication of the diaries of former Labour Minister Richard Crossman, for which he risked prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

When Rupert Murdoch acquired Times Newspapers Limited in 1981, he appointed Evans as editor of The Times. He remained with the paper only a year, during which time The Times was notably critical of Margaret Thatcher. Over 50 journalists resigned in the first six months of Murdoch's takeover, a number of them known to dislike Evans. In March 1982, a group of Times journalists called for Evans to resign, despite the paper's increase in circulation, claiming that he had overseen an "erosion of editorial standards".[3] Evans resigned shortly afterwards, citing policy differences with Murdoch relating to editorial independence. Evans wrote an account in a book entitled Good Times, Bad Times (1984). On leaving The Times, Evans became director of Goldcrest Films and Television.

Relationship with Tina Brown

In 1973, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh introduced Evans to Tina Brown, a female journalist twenty-five years Evans's junior. In 1974 she was given freelance assignments with The Sunday Times in the UK, and in the US by its colour magazine.[4] When a sexual affair emerged between the married Evans and Brown, she resigned and joined the rival The Sunday Telegraph.[5] Evans duly divorced his wife in 1978 and on 20 August 1981 Evans and Brown were married at Grey Gardens, in East Hampton, New York, the home of Ben Bradlee, then The Washington Post executive editor, and Sally Quinn.[4] Evans lives in New York City with Brown and their two children—a son, George, born in 1986, and a daughter, Isabel, born in 1990.[6]

Move to America

In 1984, Evans moved to the United States, where he taught at Duke University. He was subsequently appointed editor-in-chief of The Atlantic Monthly Press and became editorial director of US News and World Report. In 1986 he was the founding editor of Conde Nast Traveler, dedicated to "truth in travel".

Evans was appointed president and publisher of Random House trade group from 1990 to 1997. He was editorial director and vice chairman of US News and World Report, the New York Daily News, and The Atlantic Monthly from 1997 to January 2000, when he resigned to concentrate on his personal writing.

Evans's best-known work, The American Century, won critical acclaim when it was published in 1998. The sequel, They Made America (2004), described the lives of some of the country's most important inventors and innovators. Fortune characterized it as one of the best books in the 75 years of that magazine's publication. The book was adapted as a four-part television mini-series that same year and as a National Public Radio special in the USA in 2005.

Harold Evans became an American citizen in 1993,[7] and lives in New York with his wife Tina Brown and their two children.

On 13 June 2011, he became Editor at Large at Reuters.[8]



Radio and television programmes



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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Nicholas Lemann, "The Power and the Glory", The New Yorker, 7 December 2009, accessed 3 January 2013
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  7. Embedded RealPlayer file "UK Journalist legend calls it a day", BBC News, 22 October 1999
  8. Sir Harold Evans Appointed Reuters Editor-at-Large, Erin Kurtz, Reuters, 13 June 2011.
  9. Michael Kudlak, IPI World Press Freedom Heroes: Harold Evans, IPI Report, June 2000
  10. Detail from a copy of Good Times, Bad Times, first published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson London in 1983 with an ISBN 0-297-78295-9

External links

Media offices
Preceded by Editor of The Sunday Times
Succeeded by
Frank Giles
Preceded by Editor of The Times
Succeeded by
Charles Douglas-Home