King, Cecil (Harmsworth) (1901–1987)
British newspaper tycoon who was sympathetic to Spiritualism
and sponsored psychical research. King was born on February
20, 1901, in London and was educated at Christ Church,
Oxford University. In 1951 he became chair of Daily Mirror
Newspapers, Ltd. (1951–63), and then chairman of International
Publishing Corporation, which included the Daily Mirror
and some two hundred other papers and magazines,
(1963–68). Through the 1960s he was also chair of Reed Paper
Group (1963–68), a director of the Bank of England (1965–68),
and chair of the Newspaper Proprietors Association (1961–68).
In addition to his newspaper and journalistic activities, King
also wrote several books on history and current events. His second
wife was Dame Ruth Railton, whom he married in 1962.
She was a medium, and King publicly acknowledged her psychic
gift at a meeting of the Royal Institution on the subject of
ESP in 1969.
In 1964 readers of King’s newspaper, the Daily Mirror, were
invited to take part in a telepathy experiment. King donated
a substantial sum of money to finance telepathy and clairvoyance
experiments by three Oxford graduates who formed the
Psycho-Physical Research Unit. He also provided funds for the
Society for Psychical Research, London, which he and Dame
Ruth joined in 1968. In 1970 he endorsed the phenomena of
the musical medium Rosemary Brown.
In a speech at a Psychic News function in 1973, King stated
‘‘It has seemed to me for many years that the only way out
of the materialism of our society and our contempt for spiritual
values will come from knowledge and wisdom in the general
area covered by Psychic News. If we are to have a revival of religion—and
this must come some day—it would seem that the
work of Spiritualists may lead the way into realms of discovery
ignored by ecclesiastical officialdom of today.’’
King was a guest of honor at a Psychic News dinner and dance
in 1973, when he paid tribute to his wife’s psychic gifts ‘‘Her
presence by my side is a constant reminder that there is more
in heaven and Earth than atheists, skeptics, and some scientists
suppose.’’ King was not a Spiritualist and had never attended
a séance but accepted the psychic gifts of his wife.
King had great affection for Ireland and the Irish people,
and in 1974 he and his wife retired to Dublin. He died at his
home in Dublin on April 17, 1987, at age 86. An obituary in the
Psychic News (May 2, 1987) revealed that King had known the
former editor, Maurice Barbanell, for some 40 years. King was
quoted as saying, ‘‘We collaborated in our newspapers in reporting
the psychic experiences of well-known mediums of the
period, in particular Estelle Roberts.’’

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