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Sir Keith Murdoch
, 1944

by Danila Vassilieff

oil on canvas (support: 75.0 cm x 56.0 cm)

Sir Keith Murdoch (1886–1952), journalist and media proprietor, was dux of his Melbourne school before becoming a cadet journalist for the Age in 1904. After 18 months in England, he became a founding member of the Australian Journalists’ Association before moving to work as political correspondent for the Sydney evening Sun. In 1915 he became managing editor of the United Cable Service of the Sun and Melbourne Herald in London. From there, he went to Gallipoli; his long, passionate (and distorted) account of the British attitude to Australians there had major ramifications. In 1921 he returned to Melbourne as editor of the evening Herald. Sales increased quickly, and he took over other papers. Over the ensuing years Murdoch acquired diverse media interests and became increasingly interventionist; some saw him as a serious ‘cause of the deterioration in Australian politics’. From 1942 he was Chairman of Directors of the Herald and Weekly Times and director of the Herald, Sun News-Pictorial and associated publications. He married Elisabeth Greene in 1928, when he was 43 and she was nineteen. Their newspaperman son, Rupert, was to become one of the world’s most influential men.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Serafin Martinez and Thai Loi 2013
Accession number: 2013.93