Rachel SassoonBeer

Rachel Sassoon Beer rose to fame as owner and editor of both The Observer and The Sunday Times, making her the first woman to edit a national newspaper. Born to a noted Bombay family and raised in England, Beer married Frederick Arthur Beer in 1887. Her father-in-law, a wealthy financier, had bought The Observer in 1870 and passed it to his son, but Frederick’s prolonged illness meant Rachel Beer had to take on increasing responsibilities for the paper, first as a journalist and eventually as the editor. In 1893 she also acquired The Sunday Times. In 1898, during the international furor of the Dreyfus Affair, Beer published a confession from Ferdinand Esterhazy exonerating Dreyfus. When Esterhazy retracted his confession and sued her for libel, Beer published further investigative articles until Esterhazy admitted the truth and Dreyfus was released in 1899. In 1903, Beer’s fortunes took a turn for the worse—her husband died and Beer also became ill, retiring from her editorship of both newspapers. The following year she was certified insane, possibly from syphilis contracted from her husband. She spent her remaining years confined to her country estate.

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According to the book the First Woman of Fleet Street, Rachel's husband had TB and she died from stomach cancer. Why does Wikipedia say she and her husband died of syphilis?

Rachel Sassoon Beer, editor of The Observer and The Sunday Times.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Journalist, Editor, Publisher

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rachel Sassoon Beer." (Viewed on July 10, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/beer-rachel>.


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