Hedley Le Bas

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Sir Hedley Francis Le Bas (1868–1926) was a British publisher and advertising executive.[1] He is best known for the World War I recruiting campaign using the slogan "Your Country Needs You".[2]

"Your Country Needs You", iconic British recruiting poster with Lord Kitchener, the campaign being the work of Hedley Le Bas[2]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Jersey on 19 May 1868, the son of ship's captain,Thomas Amice Le Bas, and educated there.[3] In early life he was a professional soldier, serving seven years in the 15th Hussars from age 18. He then went into publishing, working for Blackie in Manchester. He became involved also in advertising to promote books, with the Caxton Publishing Company and Caxton Advertising Agency, both founded in 1899.[4][5][6][7]

In 1910 Le Bas bought out partners T. C. and E. C. Jack in Caxton Publishing, creating a private limited company.[8] He went on to become a director of George Newnes, Ltd and C. Arthur Pearson, Ltd.[9] On the board of Caxton Publishing he encountered George Riddell, who became a golfing companion and friend, for a time.[10]

Government work and World War I[edit]

The work of Le Bas on army recruitment followed an October 1913 encounter over a golf match involving George Riddell, with J. E. B. Seely, the Secretary of State for War.[4] It was launched by the Caxton agency in January 1914, with newspaper advertisements and a recruiting film, after Caxtons had consulted with Wareham Smith (1874–1938) and Thomas Baron Russell (1865–1931), who had worked as advertising managers, respectively with the Daily Mail and The Times.[11] Le Bas was a Liberal Party candidate, for Watford, but stepped down in July 1914 for health reasons.[12]

On the outbreak of World War I, Le Bas was summoned by the British government, and he formed a committee of advertising men to promote recruitment.[13] The celebrated poster of autumn 1914 was based on an image of Lord Kitchener by Alfred Leete.[14] The poster campaign itself was in the hands of the Parliamentary Recruitment Committee. Le Bas and his colleague Eric Field from the Caxton Advertising Agency were also creative initiators in the Daddy, what did you do in the Great War? poster campaign of 1915.[15]

In 1915 Le Bas was recommended by Lord Northcliffe to Reginald McKenna as someone to promote the first British war loan. His view was that politicians of the time had little idea how to exploit the media.[16][17] During 1915 his recruiting efforts turned to Ireland, and there he drew on his army service in Waterford, exploiting in a town with a substantial munitions industry the appeal of military bands.[18][19] In February of that year, he analysed for David Lloyd George the issue of Irish nationalist volunteers, and in particular the Irish Volunteers force, in the eyes of the army: taken for a Tory, he had been told they were not wanted, for the political reasons tied up with Irish Home Rule.[20]

Also in 1915, Le Bas fell out in a very public way with Riddell. Both significant in the Liberal Press, they were divided by the party faultline separating McKenna from Lloyd George, their respective golfing partners in a June 1915 match. Matters came to a head with Riddell suing Le Bas, over an alleged claim of fraud, and stating that Le Bas had tried to blackmail him over the divorce that ended his first marriage.[21]

Le Bas was knighted in 1916, the first advertising person to be honoured in that way.[3][22] He stated a conviction that "publicity will find or create anything".[23] In that year he became the publicity officer of the National Organising Committee for War Savings (NCWS).[24]

After Kitchener's death at sea in 1916, Le Bas organised the Lord Kitchener National Memorial Fund, and in 1917 edited the Lord Kitchener Memorial Book that raised funds for it.[6]

Later life[edit]

Le Bas brought a libel action against the Daily Mail, alleging that in articles and letters the newspaper had published, he had been accused of trying to influence the press in corrupt ways. He lost the case, in April 1919.[25]

In the early 1920s, Le Bas was a director of the New Statesman, offering advice to make it financially viable.[26] The editor at the time was Clifford Sharp. Le Bas discovered that the circulation was understated by a factor of nearly three, and proposed raising the advertising rate.[27]

In 1921 Le Bas founded, with friends, the Lucifer Golfing Society, a gentlemans' club that still exists; the story runs that the proposed name was the Match Club, but such a club already existed, and a pun ("lucifer" for match, as well as a euphemism for the Devil) was incorporated in the title.[28][29] He was further involved in the Lord Kitchener National Memorial Fund, founding in 1922 an association of former Kitchener Scholars.[30]

In 1923, Le Bas's residence was given as Great Tylers, Reigate.[31] At the end of his life, he lived at Chussex, Walton Heath, a 1908 house designed by Edwin Lutyens.[32][33] In 1925 he was taking a further interest in the New Statesman, working to buy up shares in it on behalf of Ramsay MacDonald who was seeking control.

Family[edit]

Le Bas married in 1900 Emma Mary Barnes, daughter of Joseph Barnes of Dorchester. They had a son Hedley Ernest (1901–1942), and a daughter Joan Mary (1912-1994).[3][34]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Webb (2008-10-14). The Letters of Sidney and Beatrice Webb: Volume 3, Pilgrimage 1912-1947. Cambridge University Press. p. 49. ISBN 9780521083980. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b Toye, Richard; Gottlieb, Julie (2005-11-05). Making Reputations: Power, Persuasion and the Individual in Modern British Politics. I.B.Tauris. p. 36. ISBN 9781850438410. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Dod's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, of Great Britain and Ireland: Including All the Titled Classes. S. Low, Marston & Company. 1917. p. 517.
  4. ^ a b Messinger, Gary S. (1992). British Propaganda and the State in the First World War. Manchester University Press. p. 214. ISBN 9780719030147. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  5. ^ Götter, Christian (2016-01-01). Die Macht der Wirkungsannahmen: Medienarbeit des britischen und deutschen Militärs in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts (in German). De Gruyter. p. 60. ISBN 9783110452204. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b Annual Register. J. Dodsley. 1927. p. 126.
  7. ^ Wormell, Jeremy (2002-09-11). The Management of the National Debt of the United Kingdom 1900-1932. Routledge. p. 754. ISBN 9781134604074. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  8. ^ The Publisher. 1910. p. 714.
  9. ^ Whitaker's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage. 1917. p. 544.
  10. ^ Riddell, Baron George Allardice Riddell (1986). The Riddell diaries, 1908-1923. Athlone Press. p. 10. ISBN 9780485113006.
  11. ^ Brendan John Maartens, Recruitment for the British Armed Forces and Civil Defences: Organising and Producing ‘Advertising’, 1913-63, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Sussex 2013, at p. 69
  12. ^ "Cymru 1914 - Friday 10th of July, 1914". Abergavenny Chronicle. 10 July 1914. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  13. ^ Russell, Thomas (2013-06-26). Commercial Advertising. Routledge Library Editions. p. 256. ISBN 9781136668746. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  14. ^ Simmonds, Alan G. V. (2013). Britain and World War One. Routledge. p. 231. ISBN 9781136629976. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  15. ^ Messinger, Gary S. (1992). British Propaganda and the State in the First World War. Manchester University Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780719030147. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  16. ^ Wormell, Jeremy (2002-09-11). The Management of the National Debt of the United Kingdom 1900-1932. Routledge. p. 135. ISBN 9781134604067. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  17. ^ Farr, Martin (2004-04-30). Reginald McKenna: Financier among Statesmen, 1863–1916. Taylor & Francis. p. 264. ISBN 9781135776602. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Propaganda at Home (Great Britain and Ireland), International Encyclopedia of the First World War (WW1)". Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  19. ^ David Brian Hammond (2018), British Army Music in the Interwar Years: Culture, Performance, and Influence Ph.D. thesis The Open University at p. 261
  20. ^ Kennedy), Christopher M. (2010). Genesis of the Rising, 1912–1916: A Transformation of Nationalist Opinion. Peter Lang. p. 90. ISBN 9781433105005. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  21. ^ Toye, Richard; Gottlieb, Julie (2005-11-05). Making Reputations: Power, Persuasion and the Individual in Modern British Politics. I.B.Tauris. p. 36. ISBN 9781850438410. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  22. ^ Turner, E. S. (2012-06-19). Dear Old Blighty. Faber & Faber. p. 37. ISBN 9780571296934. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  23. ^ Pedrini, Pier Paolo (2017-08-07). Propaganda, Persuasion and the Great War: Heredity in the modern sale of products and political ideas. Taylor & Francis. p. 42. ISBN 9781351866187. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  24. ^ Leanne Green, Advertising War: Pictorial Publicity, 1914–1918, Ph.D. thesis Manchester Metropolitan University 2015 at p. 78
  25. ^ "The Annual Register 1919 Series I". Internet Archive. London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1920. pp. Chronicle, 6. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  26. ^ Smith, Adrian (1996). The New Statesman: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-1931. Taylor & Francis. p. 150. ISBN 9780714641690. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  27. ^ Hyams, Edward; Freeman, John (1963). The New Statesman: The History of the First 50 Years ; 1913-63. Longmans. pp. 81–2. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  28. ^ "www.lucifergolfingsociety.com, The Society". Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  29. ^ "About - The Match Society". Weebly. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  30. ^ Heathorn, Stephen (2016-04-22). Haig and Kitchener in Twentieth-Century Britain: Remembrance, Representation and Appropriation. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 9781317124122. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  31. ^ Dod's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, of Great Britain and Ireland: Including All the Titled Classes. S. Low, Marston & Company. 1923. p. 517.
  32. ^ Who was who: A Companion to Who's Who. A. & C. Black. 1962. p. 614.
  33. ^ "Chussex, Tadworth and Walton, Surrey". Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  34. ^ Kelly's (1943). Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes. Kelly's Directories. p. 1101.