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William Francis Casey
Born William Francis Casey
2 May 1884(1884-05-02)
Cape Town, Cape Colony
Died 20 April 1957 (aged 72)
London, England
Education Trinity College, Dublin
Occupation Journalist and editor
Spouse(s) Amy Gertrude Pearson-Gee
Children None

William Francis Casey (2 May 1884– 20 April 1957) was a journalist and editor of The Times

He was born in Cape Town, the son of Patrick Joseph Casey, theatre proprietor, of Glenageary, and was educated at Castleknock College and Trinity College, Dublin.

He spent two years reading medicine before turning to law. He was called to the Irish bar in 1909. But again he was undecided on his career. He described his period in the law as ‘one year, one brief, one guinea’[1]. His thoughts had been drawn instead towards the theatre and, while reading for the bar, he became interested in the work of the Abbey Theatre when the directors included W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. He worked for a time on the business side, and then in 1908 two of his plays, The Suburban Groove and The Man who Missed the Tide, were produced at the Abbey and with their success he decided to try his luck in London. He took with him a letter to Bruce Richmond, editor of the Times Literary Supplement. Richmond saw the young writer's promise and it was agreed that Casey should review for the supplement. In 1914 he married Amy Gertrude Pearson-Gee, a widow, and sister-in-law of Karl Pearson. They had no children.

Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, Casey was offered a post as a sub-editor in the sporting department of The Times and from then until his retirement he was a permanent member of that paper's staff. He then served as a foreign sub-editor, with his interest and skill leading to a posting to Washington in 1919, then to Paris in the following year. He returned to London in 1923 as chief foreign sub-editor, regarded as one of the most arduous and anxious positions on the paper. He held this post until 1928. He was part of the group of proprietors and editorial staff who attempted to produce the paper during the general strike of 1926. Afterwards a souvenir volume, Strike Nights in Printing House Square, was printed for private record. One of its pictures bore the caption ‘Amateurs in the foundry’ and showed Casey and Captain Shaw, the chairman's secretary, hard at work on a mechanical process, as ‘the champion pair of matrix moulders’.

In 1928 Casey joined the Times's foreign leader-writing staff. He attended many of the Geneva sessions of the League of Nations. In the 1930s his concern grew as to German aspirations in Europe. He was known within the senior ranks as a francophile, but within The Times of that period he ‘knew that his judgement on foreign matters carried little weight’[2].

He was one of the senior journalists who gathered in 1936 in the office of the paper's deputy editor, Robert M'Gowan Barrington-Ward — a strong supporter of appeasement with Hitler, as was the editor, Geoffrey Dawson — to demand the paper take a stronger line to ‘stand up to Hitler’ [3]. They were ignored. But on Dawson's retirement in 1941, the new editor, Barrington-Ward, appointed Casey his deputy; the selection was welcomed by the staff, partly because of his greatly more relaxed style. He was a member of many clubs and he would declare that, if he could squeeze in a game of billiards in his dinner break, work went much more easily on his return. Iverach McDonald described him as ‘never over-eager to work’.[4]

Barrington-Ward's premature death in 1948 threw the burden of editorship on to Casey's shoulders sooner than expected: he himself had never wished to be editor. Only a few months before he had agreed with Barrington-Ward that he ‘should very soon retire’.[5] Stephen Koss says it was ‘clearly a stopgap appointment’.[6] John Pringle, on The Times staff, said of Casey's editorship that ‘as time went on, he found it harder to face the detailed administrative work and constant decisions … [his deputy, Donald] Tyerman … often had to get the paper out for days on end without much guidance from the editor’.[7] Yet his willingness to listen to staff and the fact that, unusually for an editor, he ‘seemed to have all the time in the world’[8], made him a popular figure among the journalists under him.

Sources

The Times (22 and 24 April 1957)

References

  1. ^ History of The Times, 5.165
  2. ^ History of The Times, 4.929
  3. ^ Heren, 36
  4. ^ History of The Times, 5.164
  5. ^ History of The Times, 5.164
  6. ^ Koss, 643
  7. ^ History of The Times, 5.199
  8. ^ Heren, 90
Media offices
Preceded by
Robert M'Gowan Barrington-Ward
Editor of The Times
1948 - 1952
Succeeded by
William Haley
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