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LFB festive quiz 2020

THIS QUIZ was planned 15 years ago with Dave Rochelle, then Chair of LFB, with questions about journalists who mostly are better known for other achievements. If you don't know the answers, we hope you will at least gain some quirky - if not necessarily useful - knowledge.

As it turned out at the Christmas LFB meeting, the quiz was too hard (and we have now added "Russian" to question 15) but we did enjoy putting it together! (And throwing away the relevant cuttings accumulated over the years.)


As promised, here are the quiz winners with the three highest scores: Andrew Weir got 9 out of 20 and our speaker Steve Bell and Mike Holderness both 7 out of 20. Their names shall be covered in glory forever.

So, first a story about a journalist who is not a subject of one of these questions, but pretty famous in another field - for his Father Brown stories. A woman said admiringly to G.K. Chesterton at the end of a talk he gave in 1909: "You seem to know everything". "Madam," he replied, "I know nothing. I am a journalist".

There are 20 questions. Answers are below the questions.

The questions

1. Twenty Questions was a panel game that ran on the BBC from 1947 for 29 years. Its longest-serving presenter, whose first job in journalism was as the Times correspondent in Cyprus before joining the BBC, presided over the game for nine years and became known as "the rudest man in Britain". Who was he?

2. Who started as a journalist on the Bucks Free Press and was then Press Officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board before becoming rather better known for a famous series of novels, many of which feature Death as a significant character?

3. This journalist was editor of the magazine The Lady's World. He changed the name to The Woman's World and despite this name change, took it upmarket, before resigning. He is more famous as a playwright. His final days were in Paris, where he is buried.

4. After he was shot and killed in 1870 by Prince Pierre Bonaparte, he became a symbol of opposition to the imperial regime. His tomb in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris has become a fertility symbol: his statue has a very shiny crotch.

Additional clue: his name was adopted as nom de plume by a former editor of the Journalist.

5. Born in 1890, and living in Paris after the First World War, he wrote an article in 1922 for a French magazine criticising the use of English words by French sportswriters. He was later a prominent war leader in the second half of the 20th century.

6. Another war leader was sometime journalist Winston Churchill. What was the name of his one novel?

7. He did not invent but did improve and popularise an item that, before iPads and before tape recorders, no print journalist would be without. This item took his name and was first produced in 1931.

8. How were the authors Stella Gibbons, (Cold Comfort Farm), Penelope Mortimer (The Pumpkin Eater) and Elizabeth Bowen (The Death or the Heart) linked journalism-wise?

9. Born in 1928, this world-renowned author and poet was a journalist from 1961-1965, in Egypt and then Ghana, where she edited The African Review. She recited one of her poems at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

10. Whose first job was as a junior reporter on the Civil and Military Gazette, the English-language newspaper in India during the Raj? He later made use of India in his poetry and novels - one of which has been a favourite with children ever since.

11. He worked at the Evening Standard until 1963, writing about pop music. He is credited with the first interview with The Beatles. He later worked for The Sun and Sunday Times before concentrating on poetry - he was a leading poet of the anti-war movement, and is well known for his poetry for children.

12. While staying in Yorkshire as a young woman she visited the Bronte Parsonage and wrote the essay, "Haworth, November 1904". The publication of this and her first book review, were in The Guardian - not the Guardian we know. The cheque for both was £2 7s 6d - she had, as she noted, proudly become a freelance journalist.

13. Who, after an impressive career in Fleet Street, immortalised in his book Towards the End of the Morning, moved on to become one of the UK’s foremost playwrights?

14. In a speech to the American Newspaper Publishers' Association in 1961, who said that if only Karl Marx had remained a foreign correspondent, history might have been different?

15. In October 1902, the first meeting of these two Russians was in London in the home of one of them, in what is now Cruikshank Street off Pentonville Road, though the resident was still asleep in bed when his visitor arrived. Both subsequently became internationally famous, though not as journalists.

16. Born in 1821, he worked as a journalist from about 1858, publishing and editing several magazines of his own. He travelled round western Europe, developed a gambling addiction and had to beg for money. He became one of the most highly regarded Russian writers.

17. This is highly topical, but fictional. On his losing the election for Governor of New York, this man's newspaper ran with the headline "Fraud at the Polls". The man's name is in the title of a very famous film. What is the name of the film?

18. This fictional journalist, star of comic strip and screen, is the progeny of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and was prone to dressing up. What is his name?

19. He founded the Newspaper Press Fund, now known as the Journalists' Charity, in 1864 to help journalists and their families going through hard times. He began as a reporter in the House of Commons, but later set up two journals of his own. However, he is much better known in another sphere. Who is he?

20. In the 1890s she was the first female editor of a UK national newspaper and was in the news in 2020 when The Observer and the Sunday Times (both of which she edited) joined forces to add a memorial of "her pioneering contribution" to Fleet Street on her grave in Tunbridge Wells.

Bonus question

This is a bit of a cheat - a man who intended to be a journalist, but became a poet instead. He is buried in his birth town of Charleville, where the cemetery has a postbox for letters his fans still write to him over 150 years after his death at the age of 37. He was 16 when he published his first poem, becoming widely known and praised, but wrote for only five years, before turning to trading. He has been an influence on, among others, Bob Dylan, especially in Mr Tambourine Man.


1. GILBERT HARDING. He was finally dislodged in 1960 after drinking a triple gin and tonic, was rude to two panellists, failed to follow the rules of the game and ended the show three minutes early saying "I'm fed up with this idiotic game - I'm going home".


3. OSCAR WILDE. In a letter to the publisher, he undertook to transform the magazine into "the recognised organ for the expression of women’s opinions on all subjects of literature, art, and modern life". He vowed that The Woman’s World would: "take a wider range, as well as a high standpoint, and deal not merely with what women wear, but with what they think, and what they feel".

4. VICTOR NOIR. A life-sized bronze statue marks his grave, portrayed as though he had just fallen on the street, dropping his hat which is beside him.

5. HO CHI MINH. While living in Paris, he began to write articles as well as running his Vietnamese nationalist group. In May 1922, he wrote an article imploring the French Prime Minister to outlaw such Franglais as le manager, le round and le knock-out. His articles and speeches caught the attention of a Russian revolutionary, who sponsored his trip to the Soviet Union.

6. SAVROLA. This novel was the first book that Winston Churchill started to write, but the third to be published, as he broke off to write more topical books on his recent exploits. In a tale of revolution in the fictional Mediterranean state of Laurania, Savrola is modelled on Churchill himself. In his 1930 autobiography he wrote, "I have consistently urged my friends to abstain from reading it."

7. LASLO BIRO. He was editor of Hongrienewspaper 1933-35.

8. Each took diplomas in journalism - at University College, London.

9. MAYA ANGELOU. The poem read at Clinton's inauguration was "On the Pulse of Morning".



12. VIRGINIA WOOLF. The Guardian was a magazine for "the clergy and like-minded readers".


14. JOHN F KENNEDY. He said that in 1851 when Karl Marx was employed as a London correspondent by the New York Herald Tribune he constantly appealed to the editor for an increase in his meagre earnings. He added: "If only this capitalist New York newspaper had treated him more kindly, history might have been different - and I hope all publishers will bear this lesson in mind the next time they receive a request for a small increase in the expense account from an obscure newspaper man."

15. TROTSKY AND LENIN Leon Trotsky, whose pen name was "The Pen" called on Vladimir Lenin while he was in London. The term "Bolshevik" was coined by Lenin, during a meeting which is said to have taken place in what is now The Three Johns pub in Islington.


17. CITIZEN KANE. Based in part upon American media barons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.

18. CLARK KENT aka SUPERMAN. First appeared in the comic book Action Comics number 1, June 1938.



Bonus question - ARTHUR RIMBAUD. It was "Le bateau ivre" (the drunken boat) that was the inspiration for Mr Tambourine Man.