John Fairfax

(1804—1877) newspaper proprietor and politician in Australia

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(1805–77), born Warwickshire, England, was apprenticed to the printing trade in 1817. He worked on the London Morning Chronicle and was proprietor of the Leamington Spa Courier and the Leamington Chronicle before a libel suit forced him to the insolvency court and to a decision to emigrate to Australia, where he arrived with his family in 1838. In 1841, in partnership with Charles Kemp, he bought the daily Sydney Herald; in 1842 it became the Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax bought out Kemp in 1853 and brought his sons into the management; the Echo (1875–93), a penny evening newspaper, and the Sydney Mail were added to the Sydney Morning Herald stable in his lifetime. After Fairfax's death his descendants carried on John Fairfax & Sons, which was formed in 1856 and remained a family company (limited in 1916, proprietary in 1937) until the public company John Fairfax Ltd was formed in 1956. In December 1990, two months before the Fairfax family proprietorship would have completed 150 years of Australian newspaper publishing (it had acquired the Melbourne Age in 1983) John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd went into receivership as a result of a takeover bid by 26-year-old Warwick Fairfax. Conrad Black, owner of Britain's Daily Telegraph, with his Tourang Consortium bid successfully for John Fairfax Holdings Ltd (the SMH, Age and Australian Financial Review) in December 1991 with a foreign equity limit of 15 per cent. The first chief executive of the new group was South African Stephen Mulholland, appointed 1992.


From The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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