Biography

Birth date: 12 August 1885
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, West Melbourne
Death date: 04 October 1952
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Langwarrin
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

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.

Rolls and Awards

Photograph

004284

1940-12-17. MELBOURNE - PRESENTATION TO SIR KEITH MURDOCH ON HIS RETIREMENT AS DIRECTOR OF DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION, MADE BY SENATOR FOLL, THE NEW MINISTER FOR INFORMATION. (NEGATIVE BY E.L. CRANSTONE).

004284

A00879

The No. 4 gun, an 18 pound field gun of B sub-section, 9th Battery, in action during a Turkish attack. They are firing from McCay's [M'Cay's] Hill towards the Olive Grove, targetting a Turkish supply train about to enter a sunken road. The gun is camouflaged with leaves attached to netting. There...

A00879

P00396.001

LONDON, ENGLAND, C. 1941. FLIGHT LIEUTENANT 'PADDY' FINUCANE , DSO, DFC, RAF, TALKING TO FLIGHT LIEUTENANT TRUSCOTT, DFC, RAAF, (LEFT) DURING A DINNER GIVEN BY AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPER MAGNATE SIR KEITH MURDOCH.

P00396.001

A05396

KEITH MURDOCH OUTSIDE C. E. W. BEAN'S DUGOUT DURING HIS VISIT TO ANZAC COVE . Murdoch arrived at Anzac Cove on 3 September 1915 and left for London 6 September 1915. Murdoch was travelling to London on behalf of the Sydney Sun and Melbourne Herald newspapers to manage their cable service from The...

A05396

E02650

The Honourable William Morris (Billy) Hughes, Australian Prime Minister (left), and Mr Keith Murdoch.

E02650

E03168

Mr Campbell Jones, Mr Knight and Mr Keith Murdoch, well known Australian journalists, in an evacuated trench near Peronne during a visit to the Australian front.

E03168

E03160

Unidentified Australian journalists and War Correspondents, Mr Campbell Jones, Mr Knight and Mr Keith Murdoch in the forward area near La Maicourt between Flamicourt and Peronne. The 5th Battalion Pioneers, in the rear, are engaged filling in a large shell crater in the road. Identified: Lieutenant...

E03160

Film

Australian pressmen visit Australian front

Australian and British newspaper editors and war correspondents visit the Australian forces in France, where they view and enter old trenches near Biaches and watch artillery barrages laid down by the Australian artillery in the Mont St Quentin sector. The press later viewed the tank school and...

F00046

Mr Menzies at Puckapunyal camp

The Right Honourable R G Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia, Brigadier Geoffrey Austin Street, MC, Minister of State for Defence, Sir Keith Murdock, Director General of the Department of Information, inspect Puckapunyal Camp. Lieutenant Colonel R Kendall, Commanding Officer Corps Signals is with...

F01106

Private Record

Murdoch, Keith Arthur (Journalist) 1885-1952

Collection of papers of Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch, journalist and newspaper proprietor, working for the Sydney Sun at the beginning of the First World War. Relates to the conscription referendums held in Australia in 1916 and 1917 and consists of battle reports, expenditure, cables, correspondence,... Maker: Murdoch, Keith Arthur

3DRL/2925

Digitised Collection

Series 5: Correspondence between Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood and Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch, 1916-1918

A series of letters exchanged between Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood and Sir Keith Murdoch, covering in detail the Australian referendum on conscription in 1916, of which Murdoch wrote '...it is characteristic of them that they should genuinely dislike forcing others to come to the hell of...

RCDIG0000034

Correspondence with Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch, 1916 -1918

This folder contains 21 letters written by Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch to Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood between 23 October 1915 and 10 June 1918. Also included is a telegram sent by Murdoch to The Sun newspaper in relation to the promotion of Monash to Corps Commander. Some of the topics...

RCDIG0000035

Letters written by Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood to Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson, 1918

This folder contains copies of 13 letters sent by Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood to Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson between 3 February and 6 December 1918. During this period, Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson was the Governor-General of Australia. Some of the topics covered in these...

RCDIG0000042

Series 7: Correspondence with Sir George Foster Pearce, 1915-1919

A series of letters exchanged between Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood and Sir George Foster Pearce whilst Pearce was serving as the Australian Minister of Defence. Topics discussed include the campaign to take Bapaume in France, the appointment of Australian officers, the Australian federal...

RCDIG0000045

Series 13: Federal Election and the Second Conscription Referendum, 1917

This series comprises correspondence relating to the 1917 federal election in Australia, as well as correspondence and official documents about the 1916 and 1917 referendums on conscription. The correspondents featured in this series include Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood, Sir Keith Arthur...

RCDIG0000121

Federal Elections AIF: Correspondence with Keith Arthur Murdoch and Frederick William Young, Agent General for South Australia

This file contains ten letters and telegrams exchanged between Birdwood, Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch, Frederick William Young and Brigadier General Sir Robert Murray McCheyne Anderson. The subject of these letters is the Australian federal election on 5 May 1917 and the Conscription Referendum held on...

RCDIG0000122

Messages re [conscription] referendum

This file contains 23 messages, instructions, telegrams, and letters exchanged between Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood and others about the 1916 and 1917 conscription referendums. Correspondents in this file include Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch and Prime Minister William Morris Hughes. This file...

RCDIG0000123

Personal Files Book 18, 25 May - 3 June 1918

File of papers relating to the First World War service of Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, Australian Corps. This file, originally part of Book 18, covers 25 May 1918 to 3 June 1918 and includes documents relating to Monash's ascension to comand of the Australian Corps and the make up of the...

RCDIG0000631

Personal Files Book 21, 10 September - 3 October 1918

File of papers relating to the First World War service of Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, Australian Corps. This file, originally part of Book 21, covers 10 September 1918 to 3 October 1918 and includes documents relating to the Epehy and Beaurevoir actions as well as plans for a restructuring...

RCDIG0000637

Newspaper clippings and written ephemera from 1915 – 1920

This file contains 67 newspaper cuttings dating from the First World War. The majority of these articles discuss the evacuation from Gallipoli and Anzac commemoration in London. There is also a copy of The Argus from 12 November 1918, a copy of an address to the troops by Marshal Foch, a ticket...

RCDIG0001102

Timeline

Date of birth 1885-08-12 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 1915-09-23 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 1915-10-14 The Dardanelles Comittee met and ended Sir Ian Hamilton's active career, dismissing him as commander of the Gallipoli campaign.
Other 1915-12-12 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 1933-06-03 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 1952-10-04 Langwarrin, VIC.