Return to Frederick Greenwood (person)

English journalist and man of letters
Born 1830 Died 1909

Frederick Greenwood was born in April 1830. He was one of three brothers - the others being James and Charles - who all gained reputation as journalists. Frederick started life in a printing house, but at an early age began to write in periodicals. In 1853 he contributed a sketch of Napoleon III to a volume called The Napoleon Dynasty (2nd ed., 1855). He also wrote several novels: The Loves of an Apothecary (1854), The Path of Roses (1859) and (with his brother James) Under a Cloud (1860). To the second number of the Cornhill Magazine he contributed An Essay without End, and this led to an introduction to Thackeray. In 1862, when Thackeray resigned the editorship of the Cornhill, Greenwood became joint editor with G. H. Lewes. In 1864 he was appointed sole editor, a post which he held until 1868. While at the Cornhill he wrote an article in which he suggested, to some extent, how Thackeray might have intended to conclude his unfinished work Denis Duval, and in its pages appeared Margaret Denzil's History, Greenwood's most ambitious work of fiction, published in volume form in 1864.

At that time Greenwood had conceived the idea of an evening newspaper, which, while containing "all the news proper to an evening journal", should, for the most part, be made up "of original articles upon the many things which engage the thoughts, or employ the energies, or amuse the leisure of mankind." Public affairs, literature and art, and all the influences which strengthen or dissipate society were to be discussed by men whose independence and authority were equally unquestionable. Canning's Anti-Jacobin and the Saturday Review of 1864 were the joint models Greenwood had before him. The idea was taken up by Mr George Smith, and the Pall Mall Gazette (so named after Thackeray's imaginary paper in Pendennis) was launched in February 1865, with Greenwood as editor. Within a few years he had come to exercise a great influence on public affairs. His views somewhat rapidly ripened from what was described as philosophic Liberalism into Conservatism. "No minister in Great Britain", Mr Gladstone declared, "ever had a more able, a more zealous, a more effective supporter for his policy than Lord Beaconsfield had in Greenwood". It was on the suggestion of Greenwood that Beaconsfield purchased in 1875 the Suez Canal shares of the Khedive Ismail; the British government being ignorant, until informed by Greenwood, that the shares were for sale and likely to be bought by France. It was characteristic of Greenwood that he declined to publish the news of the purchase of the shares in the Pall Mall before the official announcement was made.

Early in 1880 the Pall Mall changed owners, and the new proprietor required it to support Liberal policy. Greenwood at once resigned his editorship, but in May a new paper, the St James's Gazette , was started for him by Mr Henry Hucks Gibbs (afterwards Lord Aldenham), and Greenwood proceeded to carry on in it the tradition which he had established in the Pall Mall. At the St James's Greenwood remained for over eight years, continuing to exercise a marked influence upon political affairs, notably as a pungent critic of the Gladstone administration (1880-1885) and an independent supporter of Lord Salisbury. His connexion with the paper ceased in August 1888, owing to disagreements with the new proprietor, Mr E. Steinkopff, who had bought the St James's at Greenwood's own suggestion. In January 1891 Greenwood brought out a weekly review which he named the Anti-Jacobin. It failed, however, to gain public support, the last number appearing in January 1892. In 1893 he published The Lover's Lexicon and in 1894 Imagination in Dreams. He continued to express his views on political and social questions in contributions to newspapers and magazines, writing frequently in the Westminster Gazette, the Pall Mall, Blackwood, the Cornhill, etc. Towards the end of his life his political views reverted in some respects to the Liberalism of his early days.

In the words of George Meredith "Greenwood was not only a great journalist, he had a statesman's head. The national interests were always urgent at his heart." He was remarkable for securing for his papers the services of the ablest writers of the day, and for the gift of recognizing merit in new writers, such, for instance, as Richard Jeffries and J. M. Barrie. His instinct for capacity in others was as sure as was his journalistic judgment. In 1905, on the occasion of his 75th birthday, a dinner was given in his honour by leading statesmen, journalists, and men of letters (with John Morley - who had succeeded him as editor of the Pall Mall - in the chair). In May 1907 he contributed to Blackwood an article on The New Journalism, in which he drew a sharp contrast between the old and the new conditions under which the work of a newspaper writer is conducted. He died at Sydenham on the 14th of December 1909.

See Honouring Frederick Greenwood, being a report of the speeches at the dinner on the 8th of April 1905 (London, privately printed, 1905); Birth and Infancy of the Pall Mall Gazette, an article contributed by Greenwood to the Pall Mall of the 14th of April 1897; " The Blowing of the Trumpet " in the introduction to the St James's (May 31, 1880); obituary notices in the Athenaeum (Dec. 25, 1909) and The Times (Dec. 17, 1909).

Being the entry for GREENWOOD, FREDERICK in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

Existing:


Non-Existing: