William Haley

This article is about British newspaper editor. For American music performer William Haley, see Bill Haley.
Sir William Haley
Born William John Haley
(1901-05-24)24 May 1901
Died 6 September 1987(1987-09-06) (aged 86)
Education Cambridge University
Dartmouth College
Occupation Editor and director-general of the BBC
Spouse(s) Susan Gibbons

Sir William John Haley, KCMG (24 May 1901 6 September 1987) was a British newspaper editor and broadcasting administrator.


Haley grew up on the island of Jersey and attended Victoria College. In 1918 he began to study journalism, and in 1921 he secured his first newspaper employment at The Times, eventually being stationed in Brussels.[1]

Early in his career on the Manchester Evening News, Haley was found to be too shy to work as a reporter. He was then transferred to subediting.[2] He rose through the ranks becoming director of Manchester Guardian and Evening News, Ltd after 8 years.[1]

He served as Director-General of the BBC from 1944 to 1952 and from 1952 to 1966 he was editor of The Times. At The Times he wrote a series of light-hearted bookish articles under the pseudonym 'Oliver Edwards.' These articles were published in 1957 by Heinemann as 'Talking of Books.' While at the BBC he created the Third Programme, now known as BBC Radio 3.[3] He was made Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1946.

He was editor in chief of Encyclopædia Britannica from January 1968 until resigning in April 1969 in an editorial dispute over how to adapt the work to new readers. It was reported that younger executives (including the company's president, Charles E. Swanson) wanted to introduce livelier materials, while Haley favoured the traditional approach and an expansion in size.[4]

Sir William died in a nursing home in Jersey.[5]


  1. 1 2 "Sir William Haley". Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  2. Harold Evans, Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers 2000 p.10
  3. "Key Facts: Director-Generals". Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  4. Henry Raymont, "Encyclopaedia Britannica Feud Seen", New York Times, April 20, 1969
  5. "WILLIAM J. HALEY, BRITISH JOURNALIST, DIES AT 86". Retrieved 14 June 2012.
Media offices
Preceded by
Robert W. Foot
Director-General of the BBC
Succeeded by
Ian Jacob
Preceded by
William Casey
Editor of The Times
Succeeded by
William Rees-Mogg
Preceded by
Warren E. Preece
Editor-in-Chief of Encyclopædia Britannica
Succeeded by
Warren E. Preece

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