Anthony and the Daily Express

Anthony, the cub reporter, 1936

When Anthony joined the permanent staff in April 1936, the Daily Express was approaching its zenith as the most exciting and influential newspaper in Britain.

Its owner, Lord Beaverbrook, dominated both the newspaper and political worlds. A close friend of Winston Churchill, his genius for organisation, motivation, and publicity would lead to him being created Minister of Aircraft Production in the summer of 1940, a position which he would make a huge success of.

A political intriguer and master propagandist, Beaverbrook had acquired the Daily Express in 1916 when it was in serious financial difficulty. He had utterly transformed it. By 1937 the paper had a staggering daily circulation of 2,329,000. In October 1938, sales topped two and a half million for the first time.[1]

It was the perfect milieu for an ambitious, hard-working youngster like Anthony. Before he was taken on the staff, he worked for some months in the newspaper’s library as a general dogsbody, soaking up the ethos of the place. He also contributed to the paper on a freelance basis, providing fodder for the gossip columns and imitating the style of ‘William Hickey’, the column written by one of the paper’s star journalists, Tom Driberg.

Anthony’s anonymous contributions became so numerous that he was soon earning around £1,000 a year, a colossal sum for a young journalist who was just starting out. The newspaper cut its expenses in half when it gave him a permanent job on a reporter’s salary.

[1] R Allen with John Frost, Voice of Britain, The Inside Story of the Daily Express (Patrick Stephens, Cambridge, 1983), pp.54-70.