Hearst, William Randolph, 1863-1951

Alternative names
Birth 1863-04-29
Death 1951-08-14

Biographical notes:

Epithet: American newspaper proprietor

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000303.0x000339

American journalist, publisher, and politician.

From the description of William Randolph Hearst papers, 1874-1951 (bulk 1927-1947). (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 26643556

American newspaper publisher.

From the description of Letters : of William Randolph Hearst, 1910 [manuscript]. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647817363

Biographical Sketch

William Randolph Hearst, a flamboyant, highly controversial American journalist, publisher, and politician, was born in San Francisco on April 29, 1893. After a stint at Harvard, his father gave him the newspaper, San Francisco Examiner, to run. He experimented profitably with eye-catching pictures, screaming typography, and earthy, mass-appeal news coverage. His purchase of the New York Morning Journal in 1895, instigated a bitter war with the other New York City journals. Hearst provided aggressive news coverage while increasing the paper's size and slashing prices to a penny. By luring employees from other papers with higher salaries and greater prestige, he built an impressive roster of editors, publishers, and reporters. By the 1930s, he controlled the largest publishing empire in the United States, including twenty-eight newspapers, the Cosmopolitan Picture Studio, radio stations, and nine magazines. His deep personal interest day-by-day in the coverage, layout and competitive quality of his publishing interests kept his editors constantly on their toes.

Hearst served in the House of Representatives (1903-1907) but was defeated as candidate for mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909 and for governor of New York in 1906. While a congressman he sought the Democratic party's presidential nomination without success. He was a man of many opinions, some of them ahead of his time. He supported public ownership, antitrust laws, and favorable legislation to labor unions at a time when this was considered radical. Yet later, when Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal brought many of these ideas into being, Hearst opposed FDR vigorously.

He also found time to finance motion pictures and construct and remodel a number of homes. Hearst's castle at San Simeon, California, begun in 1919 by Julia Morgan but never totally finished, was presented at his death in 1951 to the State of California Park Service as a museum. A prodigious collector of art and antiques, he often bought whole rooms including staircases and fireplaces. His collections overflowed into warehouses on both coasts although much of it was liquidated during financial difficulties during the 1930s. He died in 1951.

From the guide to the William Randolph Hearst papers, 1874-1951, (bulk 1927-1947), (The Bancroft Library.)

Biographical Information

Millicent Veronica Willson Hearst was the wife of William Randolph Hearst. She was born in 1882 and died in 1974

From the guide to the Millicent Willson Hearst papers, 1914-1947, 1926-1935, (The Bancroft Library.)


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Ark ID:


  • Art--Private collections
  • Newspaper publishing--History
  • Publishers and publishing--History
  • Journalistic ethics
  • Newspapers--Ownership
  • Antiques--Private collections
  • Private libraries


  • Collector


  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Walthamstow, Essex (as recorded)
  • Wyntoon Estate (Calif.) (as recorded)