Evans in New York City, November 2009
|Born||Harold Matthew Evans
28 June 1928
Newton Heath, Manchester, England, UK
|Alma mater||Durham University|
|Occupation||Journalist, editor in chief|
|Notable credit(s)||The Sunday Times
The Week Magazine
BBC Radio 4
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.
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". 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.
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. 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.) 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". 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. When a sexual affair emerged between the married Evans and Brown, she resigned and joined the rival The Sunday Telegraph. Evans 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. 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.
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.
- In 2000 he was named one of International Press Institute's 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past fifty years.
- In 2004, he was knighted by the British Crown for services to journalism.
Radio and television programmes
- BBC Radio 4 – A Point of View 13-week series from 29 July 2005
- Love letter to America BBC News, 29 July 2005
- BBC audio interview 16 May 2005
- They Made America PBS
- Editing and Design: A Five-Volume Manual of English, Typography and Layout (1972) ISBN 0-434-90550-X
- Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers (1972) ISBN 0-7126-6447-5
- Newspaper Design (1973) ISBN 0-434-90554-2
- Editing and Design (1974) ISBN 0-434-90552-6
- Handling Newspaper Text (1974) ISBN 0-03-012041-1
- News Headlines (1974) ISBN 0-03-007501-7
- Front Page History: Events of Our Century That Shook the World (1984) ISBN 0-88162-051-3
- Good Times, Bad Times (1984) ISBN 0-689-11465-6 Also earlier edition of Good Times, Bad Times. Includes sections of black-and-white photographic plates, plus a few charts and diagrams in text pages
- Editing and Design: Book 2: Handling Newspaper Text (1986) ISBN 0-434-90548-8
- Assignments: The Press Photographers' Association Yearbook (Assignments) (1988) by Harold Evans (commentary), Anna Tait (editor) ISBN 0-7148-2501-8
- Makers of Photographic History (1990) ISBN 0-948489-09-X
- Eyewitness 2: 3 Decades Through World Press Photos (1992) ISBN 0-907621-55-4
- Pictures on a Page: Photo-Journalism, Graphics and Picture Editing (1997) ISBN 0-7126-7388-1
- The American Century (1998) ISBN 0-679-41070-8
- War of Words: Memoirs of a South African Journalist (2000) by Benjamin Pogrund, Harold Evans ISBN 1-888363-71-1
- Shots in the Dark: True Crime Pictures (2001) by Gail Buckland, Harold Evans ISBN 0-8212-2775-0
- The Best American Magazine Writing 2001 (2001) Harold Evans (editor) ISBN 1-58648-088-X
- The BBC Reports: On America, Its Allies and Enemies, and the Counterattack on Terrorism (2002) ISBN 1-58567-299-8
- Best American Magazine Writing 2002 (2002) ISBN 1-58648-137-1
- War Stories: Reporting in the Time of Conflict from the Crimea to Iraq (2003) ISBN 1-59373-005-5
- They Made America: Two Centuries of Innovators from the Steam Engine to the Search Engine (2004) ISBN 0-316-27766-5
- We the People (2007) ISBN 0-316-27717-7
- My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times (2009) ISBN 978-0-316-03142-4
- "Sir Harold Evans Appointed Reuters Editor-at-Large". Reuters. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- Nicholas Lemann, "The Power and the Glory", The New Yorker, 7 December 2009, accessed 3 January 2013
- Temple, Mick (2008). The British Press. McGraw-Hill International. p. 67. ISBN 9780335222971.
- Evans, Harold (2010). My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-03142-4.
- Dempster, Nick (4 October 1979). "Tina Brown: How She Tore Her Way to the Top". Daily Mail. p. 7.
- "Tina Brown". Retrieved 30 August 2010.
- Embedded RealPlayer file "UK Journalist legend calls it a day", BBC News, 22 October 1999
- Sir Harold Evans Appointed Reuters Editor-at-Large, Erin Kurtz, Reuters, 13 June 2011.
- Michael Kudlak, IPI World Press Freedom Heroes: Harold Evans, IPI Report, June 2000
- 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
- Sir Harold Evans official website
- Sir Harold Evans on Facebook
- Column archive at The Daily Beast
- Column archive at the Huffington Post
- Column archive at The Guardian
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Harold Evans on Charlie Rose
- Works by or about Harold Evans in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Harold Evans at The Daily Beast
- "Harold Evans collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
- Harold Evans at DMOZ
- Harold Evans: They Made America from Bill Thompson's Eye on Books, audio of Harold Evans interview
- The American Century' from CNN Book News, 13 November 1998, includes audio clips from Harold Evans
- Booknotes interview with Evans on The American Century, 7 February 1999.
- The American Century transcript of Harold Evans interview from PBS NewsHour, 8 June 1999
- Media Giants: Harry Evans profile on Media Circus, July 2007
- Harold Evans Sees Bright Future for Print-on-Demand Newspapers from PBS MediaShift, 29 October 2009, interview includes audio clips
- on YouTube, Reuters, 14 June 2011
|Editor of The Sunday Times
|Editor of The Times