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Low and Lord Beaverbrook: the case of a cartoonist's autonomy

Benson, Timothy S. (1998) Low and Lord Beaverbrook: the case of a cartoonist's autonomy. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86081) (KAR id:86081)


'Freedom of the press belongs to the person who owns one.' '(Doug Marlette)

This thesis analyses Sir David Low's relationship with Lord Beaverbrook while the former worked for the Evening Standard between 1927 and 1950, and it argues that the relationship was different from that which has commonly been portrayed. Low and Beaverbrook made, in their own succinct ways, a substantial impact on the British political landscape throughout the inter-war period and the Second World War. Theirs was a relationship that has yet, rather surprisingly, not been thoroughly examined. During his lifetime, Beaverbrook was arguably the most politically active, hands-on, newspaper proprietor since Lord Northcliffe. Low was not only widely regarded as the greatest and most imaginative political cartoonist since possibly Gillray, but also, it has been claimed, the most independent cartoonist ever to have worked for a British newspaper up until the late 1950s. Low had a contract at the Evening Standard that gave him complete freedom in the selection and treatment of his subject matter. This was then a unique arrangement between a proprietor and a cartoonist. Low always maintained that Beaverbrook never interfered with his position of absolute independence. This thesis reveals that this was not the case. Whether, for example, in Low's treatment of Beaverbrook's friends, or the depiction of Beaverbrook himself, or the issue of Appeasement, the Monarchy, general elections etc., proprietorial constraint was administered when and where it was felt necessary. Low's independence in reality depended on how far Beaverbrook felt that freedom should go. Low on his part, it is argued, was not only prepared to ignore such blatant infringements to the terms of his contract, but also towed the line to suit his proprietor's political whims. Such behaviour was persistently and successfully disguised in order to enhance the reputations of both the cartoonist and the proprietor.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Seymour-Ure, Colin K.
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86081
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:27 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2022 22:08 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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