Philip Gibbs
Sir Philip Gibbs was an English journalist and novelist who served as one of five official British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 reporters during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Two of his siblings were also writers, A. Hamilton Gibbs
A. Hamilton Gibbs
A. Hamilton Gibbs was a novelist. He was the brother of Cosmo Hamilton and Sir Philip Gibbs.His novels include The Persistent Lovers, Soundings and Chances ....

 and Cosmo Hamilton
Cosmo Hamilton
Cosmo Hamilton , born Henry Charles Hamilton Gibbs, was an English playwright and novelist. He took his mother's maiden name when he began to write. Hamilton was married twice: First to Beryl Faber, née Beryl Crossley Smith, the sister of C...

, as was his son Anthony Gibbs.

The son of a civil servant, Gibbs was born in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and received a home education and determined at an early age to develop a career as a writer. His debut article was published in 1894 in the Daily Chronicle
Daily Chronicle
The Daily Chronicle was a British newspaper that was published from 1872 to 1930 when it merged with the Daily News to become the News Chronicle.-History:...

; five years later he published the first of many books, Founders of the Empire.

Gibbs received a major boost when he was given the post of literary editor at Alfred Harmsworth's leading (and growing) tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail
Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982...

. He subsequently worked on other prominent newspapers including the Daily Express
Daily Express
The Daily Express switched from broadsheet to tabloid in 1977 and was bought by the construction company Trafalgar House in the same year. Its publishing company, Beaverbrook Newspapers, was renamed Express Newspapers...


The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

, in 1940 referring to 1909, credited Gibbs for “bursting the bubble with one cable to the London newspaper he was representing”. The bubble in question was Frederick Cook
Frederick Cook
Frederick Albert Cook was an American explorer and physician, noted for his claim of having reached the North Pole on April 21, 1908. This would have been a year before April 6, 1909, the date claimed by Robert Peary....

’s claim in September 1909 being the first man who had reached the north pole.Gibbs didn’t trust Cook’s “romantic” impressions of his journey into the ice.

His first attempt at semi-fiction was published in 1909 as The Street of Adventure, which recounted the story of the official Liberal newspaper Tribune
Tribune 1906 - 1908
The Tribune was the official British Liberal Party newspaper founded by Franklin Thomasson MP in 1906 as a bold but disastrous experiment in newspaper production. It was a penny newspaper of a solid but serious nature....

, founded in 1906 and failing spectacularly in 1908. The paper was founded at vast expense by Franklin Thomasson
Franklin Thomasson
Descended from a well known family of cotton spinners from Bolton, Lancashire, Franklin Thomasson was born on 16 August 1873 at Alderley Edge, Cheshire, the 3rd child of John Pennington Thomasson, who was a benefactor and MP for Bolton. He married Elizabeth, a daughter of the late Caleb Coffin of...

, MP for Leicester 1906 to 1910 and featured one of the most distinguished staffs ever known in journalism, including H. Brailsford, J. L. Hammond and L. Hobhouse. A man of decidedly liberal views Gibbs took an interest in popular movements of the time, including the suffragettes, publishing a book on the movement in 1910.

With tensions growing in Europe in the years immediately preceding 1914, Gibbs repeatedly expressed a belief that war could be avoided between the Entente
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

 and Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

. In the event war broke out in Europe in August 1914 and Gibbs secured an early journalistic posting to the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...


It was not long however before the War Office
War Office
The War Office was a department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence...

 in London resolved to 'manage' popular reporting of the war - i.e. via censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 - and Gibbs was denied permission to remain on the Western Front. Nevertheless stubbornly refusing to return Gibbs was duly arrested and sent home.

Gibbs was not long out of official favour however. Along with four other men he was officially accredited as a wartime correspondent, his work appearing in the Daily Telegraph and Daily Chronicle. The price he had to pay for his accreditation was to submit to effective censorship: all of his work was to be vetted by C. E. Montague, formerly of the Manchester Guardian. Although unhappy with the arrangement he nonetheless agreed.

Gibbs' wartime output was prodigious. He not only produced a stream of newspaper articles but also a series of books: The Soul of the War (1915), The Battle of the Somme (1917), From Bapaume to Passchendaele (1918) and The Realities of War (1920). In the latter work Gibbs exacted a form of revenge for the frustration he suffered in submitting to wartime censorship; published after the armistice The Realities of War painted a most unflattering portrait of Sir Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig was a British soldier and senior commander during World War I.Douglas Haig may also refer to:* Club Atlético Douglas Haig, a football club from Argentina* Douglas Haig , American actor...

, British Commander-in-Chief in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, and his General Headquarters. Gibbs also published Now It Can Be Told (1920), an account of his personal experiences in war-torn Europe.

Frustration or no, however, Gibbs gratefully accepted a proffered knighthood at the close of the war. His post-war career continued to be as varied as ever. Embarking shortly after the war upon a lecture tour of the U.S. he also secured the first journalistic interview with a Pope.

Working as a freelance journalist - having resigned from the Daily Chronicle over its support for the Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 government's Irish policy (Gibbs was a Roman Catholic) - he published a series of additional books and articles, including a book of autobiography, Adventures in Journalism (1923).

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 brought Gibbs a renewed appointment as a wartime correspondent, this time for the Daily Sketch
Daily Sketch
The Daily Sketch was a British national tabloid newspaper, founded in Manchester in 1909 by Sir Edward Hulton.It was bought in 1920 by Lord Rothermere's Daily Mirror Newspapers but in 1925 Rothermere offloaded it to William and Gomer Berry The Daily Sketch was a British national tabloid newspaper,...

. This proved a brief stint however and he spent part of the war employed by the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Ministry of Information
Minister of Information
The Ministry of Information , headed by the Minister of Information, was a United Kingdom government department created briefly at the end of World War I and again during World War II...


In 1946 he published another volume of memoirs The Pageant of the Years; two further volumes followed in 1949 and 1957: Crowded Company and Life's Adventure, respectively.

He died at Godalming
Godalming is a town and civil parish in the Waverley district of the county of Surrey, England, south of Guildford. It is built on the banks of the River Wey and is a prosperous part of the London commuter belt. Godalming shares a three-way twinning arrangement with the towns of Joigny in France...

 on 10 March 1962.


  • Twentieth Century Authors: A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature, edited by Stanley J. Kunitz
    Stanley Kunitz
    Stanley Jasspon Kunitz was an American poet. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress twice, first in 1974 and then again in 2000.-Biography:...

     and Howard Haycraft, New York, The H. W. Wilson Company, 1942.

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