Franco-Scottish Society
promoting French & Scottish Culture
Les James Gordon Bennett, journalistes

Wednesday 16th February 2022, 4.15pm

Title: Les James Gordon Bennett, journalistes : Un Écossais à New York, un Américain à Paris.

Venue: French Institute, West Parliament Square, Edinburgh EH1 1RF

Speaker: Dr Geoff Hare (Talk delivered in French)

(Guests are welcome)

About the Talk

What is known and not known about the Gordon Bennetts, who emerged from a poor Catholic community in Banffshire in the late 18th century to international fame in the 19th Century?

James Gordon Bennett the elder, became famous and wealthy as the innovative founding editor of the New York Herald, the best-selling “penny daily” of its day. The son sponsored modern sports and created celebrity journalism for selling papers and invented the first international daily.

Frequent criss-crossing of the Atlantic and the mythic status of both father and son, whose professional journalistic lives were dogged by controversy and in the son’s case also by lurid scandal, have encouraged the creation of legends that obscure their real achievements.

This talk attempts to unravel what we know, put it into context and at the same time tell some of the more extravagant stories. They involve the invention of modern journalism, of press agencies, of transatlantic yacht racing and the Riviera as a playground for the rich and famous.

The background story involves emigration, technological progress, America’s ‘manifest destiny’, cosmopolitanism and celebrity culture. Walk-on parts are played by Buffalo Bill, Stanley and Livingstone, an owl, a weather girl, an old lady from Philadelphia, Marconi and Winston Churchill’s mother.

About the Speaker

Dr Geoff Hare is a retired academic in French studies, working notably in Aberdeen University and, until he retired, in Newcastle University, where, for a period of time, he was Head of Modern Languages.

He has written extensively on the history of modern sports and the media, including: Football in France: A Cultural History (2003).

He co-edited The Tour de France, 1903-2003: A Century of Sporting Structures, Meanings and Values. He is now working on a biography of the Gordon Bennett family.