MS 2823
Papers of Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch (1886-1952)

Biographical Note

Keith Arthur Murdoch (1886-1952) journalist and Australian newspaper magnate, was born in Melbourne, son of Rev. Patrick John and Annie Brown Murdoch late of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He was educated at Camberwell Grammar School and the London School of Economics. He began a journalist career with the Melbourne Age, as a correspondents for the district of Malvern. 1907 Murdoch left for London were he attended the London School of Economics

1910 Murdoch returned to the Age as a staff reporter for two years. 1912 he became political correspondent for the Sydney evening Sun. 1915 Denison transferred Murdoch to London as managing editor of the United Cable Service of the Sun and the Melbourne Herald. He was than commissioned by Fisher and Pearce to go to Gallipoli as war correspondence to investigate Australian Imperial Force mail service and associated matters.

He was knighted in 1933 and appointed Trustee of the National Gallery, Victoria in the same year; Director-General of Information, June-December 1940; President Australian-American-Association (Victorian Section) 1941-46; Chairman of Directors Herald and Weekly Times from 1942 and director of Herald, Sun News-Pictorial and associated publications.

Murdoch married Elisabeth, daughter of Rupert Greene in 1928. They had one son, Keith Rupert and three daughters.

Murdoch died in 1952

Series List


  1. General Correspondence, 1908-1952
  2. War Correspondent (1914-1918) and Journalist
  3. Herald and Weekly Times and Newspaper Publishing, 1917-52
  4. University of Melbourne, 1944-55
  5. National Gallery of Victoria, 1941-49
  6. Director-General of Information (June-December 1940)
  7. Speeches and Broadcasts, 1942-51
  8. Photographs
  9. Newspaper Clippings 1919-26, 1952
  10. Printed Material, 1925
  11. C.E. Sayers notes and correspondenc, 1908-67

Series Description

Series 1: General correspondence, 1908-1952

This series contains miscellaneous cuttings and correspondence with politicians, artists and other prominent Australians on various subject matters. Including the publication of W.M. Hughes Speeches, Lionel Lindsay's appointment as art critic for the Herald, the establishment of the Chair of Fine Art at Melbourne University, Australia's position prior the outbreak of World War I and other war matters. The correspondents include Alfred Deakin, W. H. Hughes, Arthur S. Spurgeon, Dame Nellie Melba, Lionel Lindsay, Sir Robert Menzies, Arthur Stretton, Harold Cox and C. Coles.

See Appendix I for more details.

Series 2: War Correspondent, 1914-1918

Murdoch was a war correspondent in the Middle East during World War I. This series comprises correspondence including the "Gallipoli letter" to Andrew Fisher, transcripts and cuttings. The correspondents include Sir William Birdwood and W.M. Hughes on conscription, George Pearce, Sir Ian Hamilton, Sir John Monash Brudenall White, and C.E.W. Bean relating to Murdoch's war service .

See Appendix II for more details

Series 3: Herald and Weekly Times and newspaper publishing, 1917-1952

Murdoch working in London for the Times. He returned to Australia in 1921 as editor of the Melbourne Herald. This series contains correspondence with H.R. Denison, Theodore Fink, Lord Northcliffe and Murdoch's managing editors notes.

See Appendix III.

Series 4: University of Melbourne, 1944-55

Keith Murdoch founded the Herald Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne in 1944. This series comprises mainly correspondence between Murdoch and Professor Joseph Burke. (3 Folders).

Series 5: National Gallery of Victoria, 1941-1949

Murdoch was appointed as a trustee of the Victorian Public Library in 1933. This was later split into four administrative trusts, one of which is the National Gallery of Victoria. In 1945 Murdoch was made Chairman of the National Gallery of Victoria's trustees. This series contains correspondence relating to the Gallery's administration such as staffing matters and the Felton Bequest. The correspondents include Daryl Lindsay, Sir Kenneth Clark, Randolph Schwabe, H.S. Bailey and J.S. Donald.

See Appendix IV for more details

Series 6: Director General of Information, June -December 1940

The Prime Minister Robert Menzies, appointed Murdoch to Director-General of Information in 1940. This series contains correspondence, notes of discussion of the War Cabinet, a speech by Murdoch and newspaper cuttings. The correspondents are Robert G. Menzies, Sir Robert Garren and Ivor Birtwistle. (3 Folders)

Series 7: Speeches and Broadcasts, 1942-51

This series contains mostly Murdoch's notes and text of speeches, 1943-1945.

(3 Folders).

Series 8: Photographs

Five photographs, including two of Murdoch in uniform during the Gallipoli period, and a portrait of Keith and Annie Murdoch (1 Folder and 1 folio)

Series 9: Newspaper clippings, 1919-26, 1952

Newspaper clippings, including Gallipoli press cutting albums, 1919-29, and one press cutting album containing tributes and obituaries on Keith Murdoch's death. (3 folders, 5 scrapbooks, and 1 folio scrapbook)

Series 10: Printed Material

One article 'Labor papers Limited': A concise history of the struggle for Union owned chain of newspapers, 1925. (1 Folder).

Series 11: C.E. Sayers

Sayers was Murdoch's biographer and this series contains research material, notes, extracts of letters from his father Patrick John Murdoch, newspaper cuttings and correspondence with Walter Murdoch. and other family members concerning the biography 'A life of Keith Murdoch.

Appendix 1

Series 1: Correspondence, 1908-1952


1.      Two letters from Alfred Deakin to Murdoch, 13 April    
        1908 and 7 July 1915                                   

2       Correspondence between W.M. Hughes and Murdoch and     
        Arthur S. Spurgeon concerning the publication of       
        Hughes speeches, 1913-40.                              

3.      Letters from Melba and a letter from Beverley Nichols  
        about an article by Melba, 1922.                       

4.      Correspondence between Joseph Lyons and Murdoch,       

5.      Correspondnece with Lionel Lindsay, including his      
        appointment as art critic for the Melbourne Herald,    
        his knighthood, comments on the conduct of the War     
        and the establishment of a Chair of Art at Melbourne   
        University, 1944.  Other correspondents include        
        Arthur Stretton, 1935-47.                              

6.      Correspondence with R.G. Menzies, Harold Cox, A.G.     
        Cameron, J.A. Alexander, Roy Morgan, 1935-47.          

7.      Correspondence relating to Sol Green Housing Trust,    

8.      Correspondence with George J. Coles, and Professor F.  
        Wood-Jones, Dr. Ross McOmish, 1936-41                  

9.      Notes from Murdoch to his personal secretary, Miss     
        Demello, 1952                                          

10.     Letters from Ivon and Alan Murdoch, J, C. Watson       
        (Labor Papers Limited),  Lord Beaverbrook, and Ross    
        Smith, and a certificate from The London School of     
        Economics, 1909-1922.                                  

11.     Letters, cables and transcripts on Federal elections,  
        J. A. Lyons, Australia's position prior to the         
        outbreak of war, broadcasting of B.B.C. News.  Other   
        correspondents include E.F. Harrison. Don Cameron,     
        W.R. Rolph, Clive Bailleau, W.S. Robinson, Sir Harry   
        Brown. 1934-1939.                                      

12.     Letters, cable and press cuttings on war matters.      
        Correspondents include Irvine Douglas, C.J.A. Moses,   
        W.J. Cleary, Hugh Denison, Clive Turnbull, Lord        
        Birdwood,  Lord Mountbatten, 1940-52                   

13      Miscellaneous letters and newspaper cuttings           
        concerning Wantabagery and Booroomba pastoral          
        properties.  A letter of condolence to Elisabeth       
        Murdoch from Lloyd Dumas.  Other correspondents        
        include W.C. Wentworth and George Masterman,           

Appendix 2

Series 2: War correspondent and Journalist 1914-18


1.      Correspondence and documents  including the            
        "Gallipoli letter"  21 June-29 Dec. 1915.              

2.      Three notes from Lord Northcliffe to Murdoch,          
        Correspondence with Andrew Fisher, Sir  George         
        Pearce, Sir Ian Hamilton, Harold Asquith, J. Milner,   

3.      Correspondence, transcripts and clippings concerning   
        the Dardenelles Commission and Ian Hamilton's diary,   

4.      A printed version, taken from a microfilm, of the      
        "Gallipoli letter" from Murdoch to Andrew Fisher as    
        it appears in the Northcliffe papers                   

5.      Correspondence with C.E.W. Bean, Brudenell White and   
        Sir William Birdwood, June 1916-December 1917.         

6.      Correspondence  between Lt. General Sir William        
        Birdwood and Murdoch, 1918-1919                        

7-8.    Correspondence with W.M. Hughes and Lt. General Sir    
        William Birdwood, 1916-18.relating to conscription     

9.      Command of the A.I.F. Correspondence with Lt. General  
        Sir William Birdwood, General Sir John Monash,W.M.     
        Hughes, Brudenall White, C.E.W. Bean, 1916-19.         

10.     Letters from Lord Fisher, Rudyard Kipling, A. Bonar    
        Law, Sir George Pearce also cablegrams and passport,   

11.     Letter resulting from Murdoch's visits to war fronts   
        and matters of censorship, 1917-18.                    

12.     Five letters from Sir George Pearce, Earl Grey,        
        General Robertson (Chief of Imperial Staff), L.S.      
        Amery, 1915-17.                                        

13-17.  Five small press cutting albums of articles sent to    
        the Sun and Herald newspapers, 1915-18                 

Appendix 3

Series 3: Herald and Weekly Times and Newspaper publishing, 1917-34


1       Correspondence with H.R. Denison, concerning Keith     
        Murdoch's appointment as editor of the Herald          
        Melbourne, 1917-1921.                                  

2       File of letters mostly from Theodore Fink to Murdoch,  
        November 1915-July 1919.                               

3-4     Correspondence between Fink and Murdoch relating to    
        Melbourne Herald and Sydney Sun's internal politics,   

5-6     Letters and telegrams between Murdoch and Fink,        

7       Correspondence, notes and newspaper clippings between  
        Murdoch and Lord Northcliffe, including Northcliffe's  
        comments on the make-up and contents of the Herald,    

8       Lord Northcliffe's "Messages from the Chief",          

9       Letters, notes, newspaper clippings, memos and cables  
        relating to the winding down of the Evening Sun        
        Melbourne, 1923-1925.                                  

10      Correspondence, notes and newspaper clippings          
        concerning the purchase of the Morning Post, 1927.     

11      Correspondence between Lloyd Dumas and Murdoch         
        concerning Dumas appointment to the Adelaide office,   

12      Correspondence with W.J. Duggan concerning the         
        Boycott of the Herald by the Melbourne Trade Hall      
        Council, 1931.                                         

13      Correspondence concerning staff changes to The Star    
        and the Herald Melbourne, 1933.                        

14      Correspondence with C.E.W. Bean , 1933-1934.           

15      Correspondence with J.A. Lyons, R.G. Menzies, E.J.     
        Harrison and A.H. Stuart regarding establishing the    
        Australian Newsprint Mill Industry, 1937-1941          

16      Correspondence with Claude McKay, Stan Cross and V.G.  
        Kelly concerning negotiation with Smith's newspapers,  

17      Correspondence with Colin Bednall, R. Simmonds, John   
        Bennett, Adrian Ball and Malcolm Forsyth regardin      
        staff matters, 1938-1949.                              

18      Correspondence with Captain H.C. Curmi regarding       
        gunners of Malta, 1942.                                

19      Correspondence with R.K. Palmer, E.K. Smart, J.J.      
        Simmonds and J.F. Williams, 1942-1947.                 

20      Correspondence and newspaper clippings concerning      
        death of Roydon Keith Palmer, 1943                     

21      Correspondence with S.G. Holland, Edward Boot, Roy     
        Howard, C. J. Morley and John Hetherington,            

22      A.A.P. independence letter from Simmonds to Murdoch,   
        1947 also correspondence with Gillis Purcell,          
        Canadian Press, 1947-1949.                             

23      Correspondence between G.F. Guthrie, Colin Grigg,      
        W.C. Wentworth, Patrick Gibson, Harold Cox and         
        others, 1947-52.                                       

24      Empire Press Union Conference, correspondence          
        relating to selection of delegates, 1950.              

25-26   Murdoch Managing Editors notes, 1924-1925, 1929and     

27      Three catalogues of art exhibition sponsored by the    
        Herald and the Advertiser, Adelaide, also a file of    
        Murdoch's  visit to Washington and New York, June      

28      Microfilm print-outs of letters between Murdoch and    
        Lord Northcliffe and extracts from the Northcliffe's   
        papers in the British Museum, 1915-922.                

Appendix 4

Series 5: National Gallery of Victoria, 1940-1952


1       National Gallery Concerts, correspondence with the     
        A.B.C., W.C. Cleary  C.C. Wicks and Tom Holt,          

2       Correspondence with Leighton Irwin (Architects)        

3       Correspondence concerning exhibitions, 1943.           

4       Correspondence and reports on post war reconstruction  
        matters, 1944.                                         

5       Kent Collection of Oriental Art:: report and           
        correspondence to trustees, 1942-1945.                 

6       Correspondence concerning staff matters and            
        reconstruction., 1944-45.                              

7       Controversy about proposed new National Gallery.       
        Extracts from newspapers correspondence and newspaper  
        clippings, 1944-1945.                                  

8       Correspondence concerning separation of the Victorian  
        Public Library into four institutions, including the   
        National Gallery of Victoria, 1944                     

9-10    Correspondence concerning Daryl Lindsay's Overseas     
        trip, 1944-1945.                                       

11-12   Felton Bequest Committee concerning buying policy,     
        correspondence with Sir Kenneth Clark, Randolph        
        Schwabe, 1944-46.                                      

13      Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, Museum,  
        and the National Gallery.  Correspondence with Seddon  
        Galleries and other administrative matters, 1946.      

14      Minutes and reports of special meeting of the          
        National Gallery Trustees, 1944.                       

15      Minutes of meetings, 1947                              

16      Correspondence concerning Sir Kenneth Clark's visit,   
        also exchange of exhibition with South Australia,      

17      Correspondence with Lionel Lindsay relating to         
        collection of Charles Keen's drawings, 1949-50.        

18      Correspondence with Daryl Lindsay, General Ramsay,     
        Colin G. Rigg and others, concerning staff and         
        administrative matters, 1951-52.                       

Appendix 5

Series 11: C.E. Sayers


1       Correspondence with Walter Murdoch concerning          
        biography, 1966                                        

2       Correspondence with Ralph Simmonds, British Museum     
        relating to Northcliffe and Murdoch's papers, 1966.    

3       Correspondence with Claude McKay, Peter Haydon,        
        George Pearce, 1966-1967.                              

4       Correspondence, notes and copies of letters            
        concerning the life of K. Murdoch                      

5       Extracts of letters of Keith Murdoch to his father     

6-8     Sayers notes and outline of biography.                 
        Biography by C.E. Sayers: "A life of Keith Murdoch,    
        Newspaper Reporter (3 Volume typescript) held in       
        folio run                                              

Box List

Box        Series    Folder                            

1          1         1-9                               
2          1         10-13                             
2          2         1-5                               
3          2         6-14  (items 13 and 14 are        
4          2         15-17  (3 volumes)                
4          3         1-5                               
5          3         6-14                              
6          3         15-23                             
7          3         24-26                             
7          4         1-3                               
8          5         1-9                               
9          5         10-18                             
10         6         1-4                               
10         7         1-3                               
10         8         1  and  folio                     
11         9         1-9  (items 4-9 are volumes)      
           10        1 Folio item                      
12         11        1-8                               
           11        folio