Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook
b.25 May 1879 Maple, York, Ontario, Canada
d.9 Jun 1964
Facts and Events
William Maxwell "Max" Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, PC, ONB, (25 May 1879 – 9 June 1964) was an Anglo-Canadian business tycoon, politician, newspaper proprietor and writer who was an influential figure in British society of the first half of the 20th century.
The young Max Aitken had a gift for making money and was a millionaire by 30. His business ambitions quickly exceeded what was then available to him in Canada and he moved to England. There he befriended Bonar Law and with his support won a seat in the House of Commons at the general election held in December 1910. A knighthood followed shortly after. During World War I he ran the Canadian Records office in London and played a role in the removal of H. H. Asquith as prime minister in 1916. The resulting Tory-led coalition government, with David Lloyd George as prime minister and Bonar Law as Chancellor of the Exchequer, rewarded Aitken with a peerage and, briefly, a Cabinet post as Minister of Information.
Post-war, the now Lord Beaverbrook concentrated on his business interests. He built the Daily Express into the most successful mass circulation newspaper in the world and used it to pursue personal campaigns, most notably for tariff reform and for the British Empire to become a free trade bloc. Beaverbrook supported appeasement throughout the 1930s but was persuaded by another long standing political friend, Winston Churchill, to serve as Minister of Aircraft Production in 1940. After numerous clashes with other Cabinet members he resigned in 1941 but later in the war was appointed Lord Privy Seal. Beaverbrook spent his later life running his newspapers, which by then included the London Evening Standard and the Sunday Express. He served as Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick and developed a reputation as a historian with his books on political and military history.