Keith Arthur Murdoch

Birth Date 1885-08-12
Birth Place Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, West Melbourne
Death Date 1952-10-04
Death Place Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Langwarrin
Conflict/Operation First World War, 1914-1918
Gazettes Biographical information The Oxford companion to Australian military history in 1995

Father of media magnate, Rupert, Keith Murdoch was also a newspaper proprietor and journalist. He was born in Melbourne on 12 August 1885 and, as a youth, suffered from a debilitating stammer that made his formative years difficult.

Having completed school, Murdoch became a journalist with the Age where he enjoyed a degree of success. In 1908 he travelled to England where he hoped to receive treatment for his stutter. By 1911, back with the Age, he had managed to control his affliction, was promoted and became Commonwealth parliamentary reporter. Murdoch grew close to several prominent politicians and was a founding member of the Australian Journalists Association which was established in 1910.

In 1912, Murdoch was given the job of Melbourne political correspondent for the Sydney Sun. When the First World War began he narrowly lost a journalist's ballot to C.E.W. Bean for the coveted position of official correspondent to the AIF.

In 1915 he was transferred to London to take up the position of Managing Editor of the United Cable Service. He travelled to the Dardanelles after the August fighting had petered out and, after just four days on the peninsula, sought to take a letter from the British journalist, Ellis Ashmead Bartlett, to the British Prime Minister without passing the censor. The letter, outlining the nature of the Gallipoli fiasco, was intercepted in Marseilles, but Murdoch wrote an 8,000 word piece of his own which, though it contained many errors, was seen by the Australian Prime Minister and senior British politicians. The letter is credited with contributing to the decision to recall the campaign's commander and for the eventual evacuation, but it earned Murdoch the contempt of many high-ranking officers.

Influential with many politicians, Murdoch acted as an intermediary between the Prime Ministers of Britain and Australia and, along with Bean, sought to influence the appointment of the commander of the Australian Corps in 1918. After the war, he rose to high paying positions in the newspaper world and in 1921 became chief editor of the Melbourne evening Herald. He proved an astute newspaper man and began to increase his wealth significantly. In June 1928 he married Elisabeth Greene and the following year acquired the Adelaide Advertiser.

By the mid-1930s Murdoch had established a national chain of media outlets based around newspapers and commercial radio stations, having already established himself as a strong supporter of the political right. Over the course of the Second World War, Murdoch's political views grew increasingly strident. He had also been a long-time patron of the arts, having sponsored exhibitions, become president of the library, museums and gallery trustees and founding the Herald chair of fine arts at Melbourne University.

He retired in 1949 and died on the night of 4-5 October 1952, having undergone several operations for cancer in the preceding years.


Date of birth 12 August 1885 West Melbourne, VIC.
Other 1908 Travelled to England to receive treatment for his stutter.
Other 1910 Was a founding member of the Australian Journalists Association.
Other 1911 Employed as a journalist with the Age.
Other 1912 Became political correspondent of the Sydney Evening Sun.
Other 1914-08 Murdoch had applied to become Australia's official war historian upon the outbreak of the First World War, but had lost the position to Charles Bean.
Other 1915 He was transferred to London to take up the position of managing editor of the United Cable Service.
Other 1915-08 Murdoch gained permission to visit Anzac Cove, ostensibly to investigate alleged mismanagement of mail sent to Australian soldiers serving in the Gallipoli campaign. Later Murdoch agreed to hand deliver a letter detailing the mismanagement of the campaign from the British reporter Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett to the British Prime Minister Hebert Asquith. On route to London, Murdoch was arrested by French Military Police in Marseilles and the letter was confiscated from him.
Other 23 September 1915 Murdoch, finally in London in the office of the Australian High Commissioner, dictated everything he could remember of Ashmead-Bartlett's dispatch and conversations. Murdoch's account was in the form of a letter addressed to the Australian Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher. The letter was later sent to British Prime Minister Asquith, who distributed it to the Dardanelles Comittee. The letter was credited with the recall of the campaign's commander and for the eventual evacuation from Gallipoli.
Other 14 October 1915 The Dardanelles Comittee met and ended Sir Ian Hamilton's active career, dismissing him as commander of the Gallipoli campaign.
Other 12 December 1915 The evacuation of troops from Gallipoli began.
Other 1916-08 A Royal Comission began, at which both Murdoch and Ashmead-Bartlett gave evidence. The comission found that the Gallipoli campaign had been a mistake.
Other 1918 Influential with politians Murdoch and Charles Bean sought to influence the appointment of the commander of the Australian Corps.
Other 1919 Only Australian journalist at the peace conference at Versailles.
Other 1921 Became chief editor of the Melbourne Evening Herald.
Other 1933 Murdoch was appointed Trustee of the National Gallery in Victoria.
Other 03 June 1933 Created a Knight Bachelor.
Other 1935 With financial support from Clive Baillieu and others he had acquired newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and 11 commercial radio stations.
Other 1940-06 - 1940-12 Appointed Director General of Information.
Other 1941 - 1946 President of the Victorian Section of the Australian American Association.
Other 1942 Chairman of Directors Herald and Weekly Times.
Other 1949 Retired.
Date of death 04 October 1952 Langwarrin, VIC.