Sydney J. Harris

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This article is about the journalist. For other people named Sidney or Sydney Harris, see Sidney Harris (disambiguation).

Sydney J. Harris (September 14, 1917 – December 8, 1986) was an American journalist for the Chicago Daily News and later the Chicago Sun-Times. His weekday column, “Strictly Personal,” was syndicated in many newspapers throughout the United States and Canada.


Harris was born in London, but grew up in Chicago, where he spent the rest of his life. He attended high school with Saul Bellow, who was his lifelong friend, and continued his studies at the University of Chicago.

He became a member of the editorial staff of the Chicago Daily News in 1941 and began his column in 1944. His work landed him on the master list of Nixon political opponents.

Harris often used aphorisms in his writings, such as this excerpt from Pieces of Eight (1982): "Superior people are only those who let it be discovered by others; the need to make it evident forfeits the very virtue they aspire to."

He was also a drama critic, teacher, and lecturer, and he received numerous honorary doctorates during his career. In 1980–1982 he was the visiting scholar at Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina. For many years he was a member of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. In later years, he divided his time between Chicago and Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Harris was married twice, and fathered five children.


Collected Columns[edit]

  • Strictly Personal (1953)
  • Majority of One (1957)
  • Last Things First (1961)
  • On the Contrary (1964)
  • Leaving the Surface (1968)
  • For the Time Being (1972)
  • The Best of Sydney J. Harris (1975)
  • Pieces of Eight (1982)
  • Clearing the Ground (1986)
  • How to Keep Air Clean

Other Books[edit]

  • The Authentic Person: Dealing with Dilemma (1972)
  • Winners and Losers (1973)
  • Would You Believe? (1979)


  • Staff report (December 8, 1986). Sydney Harris, a Columnist And Author, Dies in Chicago. New York Times

External links[edit]