|Member of Parliament, Newmarket|
|Succeeded by||Harry McCalmont|
|Member of Parliament, Swansea|
|Preceded by||John Dillwyn-Llewellyn|
|Succeeded by||Alfred Mond|
|Born||13 March 1851|
Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, England
|Died||9 June 1910 (aged 59)|
Lynton, Devon, England
|Children||2, including Frank Newnes|
|Parents||Thomas Mold Newnes|
|Residence||Hollerday House, Lynton, Devon|
City of London School
|Occupation||Newspaper Proprietor, Publisher, Editor & Politician|
|Known for||George Newnes Ltd.|
Sir George Newnes, 1st Baronet (13 March 1851 – 9 June 1910) was an English publisher and editor and a founding father of popular journalism. Newnes also served as a Liberal Party Member of Parliament for two decades. His company, George Newnes Ltd, was known for such periodicals as Tit-Bits and The Strand Magazine; it continued publishing ground-breaking consumer magazines such as Nova long after his death.
Background and education
His father, Thomas Mold Newnes, was a Congregational church minister at the Glenorchy Chapel, Matlock. George Newnes was born in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, and educated at Silcoates School and then at Shireland Hall, Warwickshire, and the City of London School. In 1875, he married Priscilla Hillyard. They had two sons; the eldest died at age eight (his death was said to have devastated his father), and Frank Newnes (born 1876).
He began his career in publishing in 1881 when he founded Tit-Bits as a direct response to the Elementary Education Act 1870 which introduced education for children aged 5–12 and hence produced a new young generation able to read.
The magazine was initially published in Manchester like a mini-encyclopedia, containing extracts from books and other publications, but principally a diverse range of tit-bits of information presented in an easy-to-read format. He funded the magazine by opening a vegetarian restaurant in Manchester. The addition of competitions increased the readership of the periodical, and in 1884 Newnes moved publication to London. He began to work with W. T. Stead, with whom he founded the Review of Reviews in 1890. Tit-Bits reached a circulation of 700,000 by the end of the 19th century. It paved the way for popular journalism – most significantly, the Daily Mail was founded by Alfred Harmsworth, a contributor to Tit-Bits, and the Daily Express was launched by Arthur Pearson, who worked at Tit-Bits for five years after winning a competition to get a job on the magazine.
Arguably his best-known publication was The Strand Magazine, begun in 1891, in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was first able to publish his Sherlock Holmes mystery series. He also founded other magazine titles, including The Wide World Magazine (1888), The Westminster Gazette (1893), and Country Life (1897).
Politically, Newnes was Liberal, and in 1885 he was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for the newly created constituency of Eastern Cambridgeshire or Newmarket. He held the seat for ten years, before his defeat by the Conservative millionaire horse-breeder, Harry McCalmont in 1895. In addition, Newnes refounded The Westminster Gazette in 1893 to support the Liberal party when The Pall Mall Gazette became a Unionist paper.
In 1895 he was created a baronet "of Wildcroft, in the parish of Putney, in the county of London; of Hollerday Hill, in the parish of Lynton, and Hesketh House, in the borough of Torquay, both in the county of Devon." He paid for the new Putney Library, built in 1899. Around this time he became the main sponsor of the Southern Cross Expedition to Antarctica; part of his contribution was the purchase of a movie camera from Arthur S. Newman, who would later supply similar cameras to Herbert Ponting of Captain Scott's 1910-3 Terra Nova Expedition and John Baptist Lucius Noel, photographer on the 1924 Mount Everest expedition.
Newnes built a large home called Hollerday House in Lynton, North Devon. It was destroyed by fire in 1913. He played a major part in the development of the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth. He built an innovative cliff railway — the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway — to join the two towns, and also provided the town hall and other amenities. Largely as a result of Sir George's efforts, the 19-mile Lynton and Barnstaple Railway opened in 1898 ostensibly to bring visitors from the mainline railways at Barnstaple. (He was also involved in funding the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway and the Clifton Rocks Railway, as well as the Lynton Village railway station and the Lynmouth Bay railway station.)
Sir George Newnes died at his Lynton home in June 1910 aged 59, having suffered ill health from diabetes for some time. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son, Frank Newnes, who had served as MP for Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire from 1906 to 1910.
The abandoned oil shale mining site of Newnes, Australia was named after him.
In 1891 his publishing business was formed into a company that bore his name, George Newnes Ltd. The company was reconstructed in 1897 with a capital of 1,000,000 pounds, and began the publication of books. In 1896 Newnes founded the book series, The Penny Library of Famous Books.
After Newnes' death in 1910, his son Frank Newnes succeeded him as president of George Newnes Ltd. Decades after the proprietor's death, George Newnes Ltd (and its imprint C. Arthur Pearson Ltd) continued into the 1960s as one of London's three leading magazine publishers – along with Odhams Press and the Hulton Press – producing a diverse range of titles from Lady's Companion, Woman’s Own, Nova, Rave and Flair, to Practical Mechanics and Practical Television.
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