Hulton, Sir Edward George Warris (1906–1988), magazine publisher and writer
by Colin Seymour-Ure, rev.

Hulton, Sir Edward George Warris (1906–1988), magazine publisher and writer, was born on 29 November 1906 in London, the only son and elder child (the daughter died when she was twenty-two, in 1932) of , of Downside, Surrey, a Manchester newspaper publisher, whose business expanded to include the London Evening Standard and the Daily Sketch. His mother, Millicent Warris, a beautiful actress, daughter of John Warris, was Edward Hulton's second wife, but the couple were unable to marry until ten years after their son's birth, and so the baronetcy conferred on Edward Hulton in 1921 became extinct on his death in 1925. Hulton was a lonely, sensitive child. His parents descended at the weekend, when his mother would dote on him, while his father, ambitious for the boy's success, was awkward and irascible. On medical advice his father gave up the newspaper business in 1923, selling it to Lord Beaverbrook. From Harrow School, Hulton won a history scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, which he entered in 1925 and where he edited the undergraduate magazine Cherwell and spoke frequently in Oxford Union debates. He left in December 1926 without a degree.

Hulton was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1936. He had stood unsuccessfully as a Conservative unionist in the general elections of 1929 (the Leek division of Staffordshire) and 1931 (Harwich). Not until he was thirty did he realize control over his father's fortune and set about becoming a publisher in his own right. He founded the Hulton Press in 1937, with the prosaic purchase of Farmers' Weekly. The business grew to include a variety of magazines, such as World Review and Leader Magazine. His children's magazines, notably Eagle and Girl, were highly successful in their day and set new standards of content and design. But the weekly publication which made Hulton widely known was Picture Post, launched on 1 October 1938. Its genius was the Hungarian refugee Stefan Lorant, who had founded (and now sold to Hulton) the popular monthly pocket magazine Lilliput. Under the steadying influence of Hulton's manager, Maxwell Raison, and Lorant's successor, , Picture Post developed a style of photojournalism in which striking pictures and design were supported by good writing and a progressive editorial line. For more than a decade this formula was popular and profitable, with sales of nearly 1.5 million in the 1940s. Hulton used the magazine to boost the war effort, pioneering (and initially funding) the Home Guard training school at Osterley Park, Middlesex, in 1940, and briefly even organizing the private supply of weapons from the USA. In August 1945 he gave ‘a resounding welcome’ to the government formed by C. R. Attlee. ‘I am not personally a socialist … Yet I rejoice that latter-day conservatism has been overthrown.’ This attitude was foreshadowed by Picture Post's publication of a post-war ‘Plan for Britain’ in 1941 and by Hulton's involvement in lobbying activities such as the progressive 1941 Committee, of which he was one of the founders and which met regularly in his house, and in support of the report by Sir William Beveridge. His book The New Age (1943) summed up his support for a mixed economy and welfare state.

Hulton blamed shifts in reading habits more than the growth of television for Picture Post's decline in the 1950s. His renewed support for the Conservative Party provoked a break with Hopkinson, who resigned in 1950 when Hulton refused to publish a story about the ill-treatment of North Korean prisoners of war. A vacillating market strategy, frequent changes of editor, and mounting losses led Hulton to close the magazine in 1957. Two years later the Hulton Press was taken over by Odhams.

Increasingly Hulton spent time on European affairs. He was editor-in-chief of European Review and held office in the European Atlantic Group (president 1969–70), the European League for Economic Cooperation, and the British council of the European Movement. In 1957 he was knighted and in 1969 he received the NATO peace medal. The Hulton Picture Library, later to become the Hulton Getty Collection, which contained photographs taken for Picture Post, was founded in 1947.

Hulton had a lively, enquiring mind, as ready to experiment with a model farm at Salperton, his estate village in Gloucestershire, as with the possibilities of a new Sunday newspaper in the 1950s. He belonged to half a dozen London clubs and was fond of social life. He could be brusque and changeable in his opinions. Hopkinson found him donnish and kind-hearted but difficult to work with.

Hulton was stout, shortish, and florid. His manner was vague and authoritative, as if he were accustomed to both giving orders and having them disobeyed. His dress was always formal, as were his manners. He married first, in 1927, Kira Pavlovna, daughter of General Pavel Goudime-Levkovich, of the imperial Russian army. There were no children. The marriage was dissolved in 1932 and in 1941 he again married a Russian, Princess Nika Yuryevich, whose father, Prince Sergey Yuryevich, was a sculptor and had been a chamberlain at the court of the tsar. Of this marriage there were two sons and a daughter. The marriage was dissolved in 1966, but the couple lived together for the last nine years of Hulton's life. Hulton died on 8 October 1988 in his sleep at his home, 11 Carlton Gardens, St James's, London, after a long illness.



E. Hulton, The new age (1943) · E. Hulton, When I was a child (1952) · T. Hopkinson, ed., Picture Post (1970) · The Times (10 Oct 1988) · CGPLA Eng. & Wales (1988)


King's Lond., Liddell Hart C., corresp. with Sir B. H. Liddell Hart · Parl. Arch., corresp. with Lord Beaverbrook


photographs, 1928–54, Hult. Arch.

Wealth at death  

£1,141,214: probate, 15 Dec 1988, CGPLA Eng. & Wales

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Sir Edward George Warris Hulton (1906–1988): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40161