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William Maxwell Aitken


(1st Lord Beaverbrook)

1879 - 1964

Lord Beaverbrook
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Lord Beaverbrook

Newspaper tycoon and politician. Aitken was the son of a church minister who had emigrated from a farm near Torphichen (West Lothian) to New Brunswick (Canada). Aitken was born in Maple (Ontario) and made a fortune as a stockbroker before he was 30.

He moved to Britain in 1910 and was elected as Member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne. In 1916, he bought the Daily Express and founded the Sunday Express two years later. The same year he was appointed Minister of Information in Lloyd George's wartime cabinet and also elevated to the peerage as Lord Beaverbrook. Aitken bought another newspaper, the Evening Standard, in 1923. Despite his idiosyncrasies, he was highly successful in bringing an unprecedented level of circulation to his newspapers, popularising them through the use of eye catching headlines, serialisations and a low cover price.

Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) appointed his friend Aitken to his Cabinet during the Second World War, where he served as Minister for Aircraft Production (1940-41), Minister of Supply (1941-42), Minister of War Production (1942) and Lord Privy Seal (1943-45). However, after the war, with no particular following or support in the country, Aitken's political career came to a close.

Aitken visited Torphichen on several occasions.

He died in Surrey (England)


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