Sheffield newspaper legend’s life to be told in new book

Sir Basil Clarke
Sir Basil Clarke
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As newspaper editors go he could be a touch controversial.

Sir Basil Clarke, the man charged with reviving the now gone Sheffield Independent in 1919, antagonised Winston Churchill by questioning his abilities, angered the Yorkshire Federation of Paint Masters by comparing the anti-strike bosses to German war criminals, and demanded home rule for Ireland. He upset advertisers so much, he was asked to leave the paper after just six months.

Now the exploits of this extraordinary journalist – who was born in 1879 and also worked for the Daily Mail and the Manchester Guardian – have been recalled in a new biography.

“Sheffield has a proud tradition of great journalists,” says author Richard Evans, a hack turned press officer of Hemel Hempstead. “But it’s unlikely there’s ever been anyone quite like Sir Basil.”

The Altrincham-born son of a chemist came here having cut his teeth on the national press. He filed from the Battle Of The Somme and Dublin’s Easter Uprising.

But his time in Sheffield was short-lived. He left the Independent in 1920 after his controversial editorials angered the owners, and went to work as a press officer for the Civil Service.

From The Frontline: The Extraordinary Life Of Sir Basil Clarke is published by The History Press now.