A book telling the story of a former regional newspaper editor who is credited with being the UK’s first professional public relations officer is due to be published this month.
Sir Basil Clarke was editor of the now-defunct Sheffield Independent from 1919 to 1920 after making his name in the First World War on the Daily Mail by defying a ban on reporters on the front line and living in Dunkirk as a fugitive.
His life has been told in a book by former regional press reporter Richard Evans called From the Frontline: The Extraordinary Life of Sir Basil Clarke, which will be released on 14 June.
Said Richard: “I always thought that the history of PR isn’t well defined and as someone who works in the industry, it amazes me how little knowledge there is about the people who started it.
“That was what gave me the idea then when I read about Basil Clarke’s life it sounded extremely intriguing so I started looking into it. It sounded an extraordinary tale to tell and the book emerged from there.
“At the Sheffield Independent, he really made his mark because he brought the editorial style of the Daily Mail to the paper and really shook things up.”
His book tells the details of Sir Basil’s career including his time at the Daily Mail where he made his name by defying the ban on reporters on the front line, before going freelance after a row with his news editor.
Sir Basil then jointly reported on the Battle of the Somme for Press Association and Reuters before joining the government in 1917 in what is believed to be the first professional PR officer role in the UK.
He joined the Sheffield Independent for a short period before going back to work for the government until being made redundant and setting up his own PR company called Editorial Services.
The book is available from Amazon.