Harold Evans

Sir Harold Matthew Evans (born 28 June 1928) is a British-American journalist and writer who was editor of The Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981.

Sir Harold Evans
Evans in 2009
Harold Matthew Evans

(1928-06-28) 28 June 1928
Patricroft, England
NationalityBritish and American
Alma materDurham University
OccupationJournalist, editor in chief
Notable credit(s)
The Sunday Times
The Week Magazine
The Guardian
BBC Radio 4

In 1984 he moved to the United States, where he had leading positions in journalism with U.S. News & World Report, The Atlantic Monthly, and the New York Daily News. In 1986 he founded Condé Nast Traveler. He has written various books on history and journalism, with his The American Century (1998) receiving particular acclaim. In 2000, he retired from leadership positions in journalism to spend more time on his writing. Since 2001, Evans has served as editor-at-large of The Week magazine and, since 2005, he has been a contributor to The Guardian and BBC Radio 4. Evans was invested as a Knight Bachelor in 2004, for services to journalism. On 13 June 2011, Evans was appointed editor-at-large of the Reuters news agency.[3]

Early life and education

Evans was born at 39 Renshaw Street, Patricroft, Eccles, to Welsh parents, whom he described in his 2009 memoir as "the self-consciously respectable working class".[4]

Early career

Evans began his career as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, at 16 years old. After completing his national service in the Royal Air Force, he entered Durham University, after contacting every one of the fourteen universities in Great Britain at the time.[4] There, he edited the university newspaper, Palatinate. He became an assistant editor of the Manchester Evening News and won a Harkness Fellowship in 1956–57 for travel and study in the United States. Nicholas Lemann noted that he "joined a long line of British journalists" who did similar studies, from Alistair Cooke to Andrew Sullivan.[4] Evans began to gain a reputation on his return from the United States when he was appointed editor of the regional daily The Northern Echo.

The Sunday Times

One report was about the plight of hundreds of British children who suffered birth defects due to thalidomide. They had never received compensation from the drug manufacturers. He organized a campaign by the newspaper's Insight investigative team, and Evans took on the drug companies responsible for the manufacture of thalidomide, pursuing them through the English courts and eventually gaining victory in the European Court of Human Rights. As a result, the victims' families won compensation after more than a decade. Moreover, the British Government was compelled to change the law inhibiting the reporting of civil cases. Other investigative reports included the exposure of Kim Philby as a Soviet spy and the publication of the diaries of former Labour Minister Richard Crossman, for which he risked prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

When Rupert Murdoch acquired Times Newspapers Limited in 1981, he appointed Evans as editor of The Times. He remained with the paper only a year, during which time The Times was critical of Margaret Thatcher. Over 50 journalists resigned in the first six months of Murdoch's takeover, a number of them known to dislike Evans. In March 1982, a group of Times journalists called for Evans to resign, despite the paper's increase in circulation, claiming that he had overseen an "erosion of editorial standards".[5] Evans resigned shortly afterwards, citing policy differences with Murdoch relating to editorial independence. Evans wrote an account in a book entitled Good Times, Bad Times (1984). On leaving The Times, Evans became director of Goldcrest Films and Television.


Evans married fellow Durham graduate Enid Parker in 1953. In 1973, Evans met Tina Brown, a journalist 25 years his junior. In 1974 she was given freelance assignments with The Sunday Times in the UK, and in the US by its colour magazine.[6] When a sexual affair emerged between the married Evans and Brown, she resigned and joined the rival The Sunday Telegraph.[7] In 1978 Evans divorced Enid, and on 20 August 1981 Evans and Brown were married at Grey Gardens, in East Hampton, New York, the home of Ben Bradlee, then The Washington Post executive editor, and Sally Quinn.[6]

Move to the United States

In 1984, Evans moved to the United States, where he taught at Duke University. He was subsequently appointed editor-in-chief of The Atlantic Monthly Press and became editorial director of U.S. News & World Report. In 1986 he was the founding editor of Conde Nast Traveler, dedicated to "truth in travel". Evans was appointed president and publisher of Random House trade group from 1990 to 1997. Evans edited many authors including William Styron, Calvin Trillin, Neil Sheehan, Gail Sheehy, Edmund Morris, Shelby Foote, Maya Angelou and Shana Alexander.[8] Gail Sheehy described working with Evans and how he was famous for his cryptic comments penciled on the manuscript, "We know this."[8]

Evans was editorial director and vice chairman of U.S. News & World Report, the New York Daily News, and The Atlantic Monthly from 1997 to January 2000, when he resigned. His work The American Century won critical acclaim when it was published in 1998. The sequel, They Made America (2004), described the lives of some of the country's most important inventors and innovators. Fortune characterized it as one of the best books in the 75 years of that magazine's publication. The book was adapted as a four-part television mini-series that same year and as a National Public Radio special in the USA in 2005.

Evans became a naturalized United States citizen in 1993.[9] On 13 June 2011, he became editor-at-large at Reuters.[10]



Radio and television programmes


  • Editing and Design: A Five-Volume Manual of English, Typography and Layout (1972) ISBN 0-434-90550-X
  • Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers (1972) ISBN 0-7126-6447-5
  • Newspaper Design (1973) ISBN 0-434-90554-2
  • Editing and Design (1974) ISBN 0-434-90552-6
  • Handling Newspaper Text (1974) ISBN 0-03-012041-1
  • News Headlines (1974) ISBN 0-03-007501-7
  • Front Page History: Events of Our Century That Shook the World (1984) ISBN 0-88162-051-3
  • Good Times, Bad Times (1984) ISBN 0-689-11465-6 Also earlier edition of Good Times, Bad Times. Includes sections of black-and-white photographic plates, plus a few charts and diagrams in text pages[14]
  • Editing and Design: Book 2: Handling Newspaper Text (1986) ISBN 0-434-90548-8
  • Assignments: The Press Photographers' Association Yearbook (Assignments) (1988) by Harold Evans (commentary), Anna Tait (editor) ISBN 0-7148-2501-8
  • Makers of Photographic History (1990) ISBN 0-948489-09-X
  • Eyewitness 2: 3 Decades Through World Press Photos (1992) ISBN 0-907621-55-4
  • Pictures on a Page: Photo-Journalism, Graphics and Picture Editing (1997) ISBN 0-7126-7388-1
  • The American Century (1998) ISBN 0-679-41070-8
  • War of Words: Memoirs of a South African Journalist (2000) by Benjamin Pogrund, Harold Evans ISBN 1-888363-71-1
  • Shots in the Dark: True Crime Pictures (2001) by Gail Buckland, Harold Evans ISBN 0-8212-2775-0
  • The Best American Magazine Writing 2001 (2001) Harold Evans (editor) ISBN 1-58648-088-X
  • The BBC Reports: On America, Its Allies and Enemies, and the Counterattack on Terrorism (2002) ISBN 1-58567-299-8
  • Best American Magazine Writing 2002 (2002) ISBN 1-58648-137-1
  • War Stories: Reporting in the Time of Conflict from the Crimea to Iraq (2003) ISBN 1-59373-005-5
  • Evans, Harold; Buckland, Gail; Lefer, David (2004). They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine: Two Centuries of Innovators. Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-27766-2.
  • We the People (2007) ISBN 0-316-27717-7
  • My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times (2009) ISBN 978-0-316-03142-4
  • Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why Writing Well Matters, New York: Back Bay Books, 2018, ISBN 978-0-316-27717-4


  1. Emma Youle (14 June 2013), "Obituary: Distinguished Highgate teacher and magistrate Enid Evans dies after a long illness", Ham & High.
  2. Robert Chalmers (12 June 2010), "Harold Evans: 'All I tried to do was shed a little light'", The Independent.
  3. "Sir Harold Evans Appointed Reuters Editor-at-Large". Reuters. 13 June 2011. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  4. Nicholas Lemann, "The Power and the Glory", The New Yorker, 7 December 2009, accessed 3 January 2013
  5. Temple, Mick (2008). The British Press. McGraw-Hill International. p. 67. ISBN 9780335222971.
  6. Evans, Harold (2010). My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-03142-4.
  7. Dempster, Nick (4 October 1979). "Tina Brown: How She Tore Her Way to the Top". Daily Mail. p. 7.
  8. Sheehy, Gail. Daring: my passages : a memoir (First ed.). New York. ISBN 9780062291691. OCLC 889426603.
  9. Embedded RealPlayer file BBC News "UK Journalist legend calls it a day", BBC News, 22 October 1999
  10. Sir Harold Evans Appointed Reuters Editor-at-Large Archived 22 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine Erin Kurtz, Reuters, 13 June 2011
  11. Michael Kudlak, IPI World Press Freedom Heroes: Harold Evans Archived 25 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine, IPI Report, June 2000
  12. United Kingdom: "No. 57155". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 31 December 2003. p. 2.
  13. "Sir Harold Evans and David Goldblatt recognised by Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards | First Book Award shortlist announced". National Media Museum. 1 March 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  14. Detail from a copy of Good Times, Bad Times, first published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson London in 1983 with an ISBN 0-297-78295-9
Media offices
Preceded by
Denis Hamilton
Editor of The Sunday Times
Succeeded by
Frank Giles
Preceded by
William Rees-Mogg
Editor of The Times
Succeeded by
Charles Douglas-Home
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