Ingram, Bruce Stirling 1877 - 1963


Sir Bruce Stirling Ingram was a journalist and newspaper editor. He was born in London on 5 May 1877, the second of three sons of Sir William James Ingram, first baronet (1847–1924), managing director of the Illustrated London News and Liberal MP, and his wife, Mary Eliza Collingwood Stirling (d. 1925). He was grandson of Herbert Ingram, who founded the Illustrated London News, the world's first illustrated weekly newspaper, in 1842.

Bruce Ingram was educated at Winchester College and at Trinity College, Oxford, where he took a third-class honours degree in jurisprudence (1897). After leaving Oxford he was given some technical training with a lithographic printing firm but was soon serving his journalistic apprenticeship by editing, with the help of a secretary and an office boy, the English Illustrated Magazine, and by producing, for the Illustrated London News, a special supplement on the war in Transvaal. When the editorship of the paper became vacant in 1900 he was offered the post, at first on a probationary basis.

He took the paper over at a difficult time. There were strong competitors in the field, and the recent development of the photographic half-tone gave daily newspapers the opportunity of carrying regular up-to-date illustrations. For the first time the daily press could challenge the illustrated weeklies, and daily picture papers such as The Graphic and the Daily Mail, which had been launched in the last decade of the nineteenth century, became a real threat to their continued existence. Ingram responded to the challenge by concentrating on the quality of printing, reproduction, and paper, exposing the weaknesses of the high-speed newsprint processes which the dailies had to use. He adapted the slow and expensive Rembrandt intaglio for rapid printing and after much patient experiment was able to introduce the photogravure process. He had a fine chance of emphasizing his point about the value of quality on the death of Queen Victoria. The memorial issues produced to mark the end of the reign, and of an era, were strikingly successful, and afterwards became valuable collector's items. His appointment was confirmed, and within a few years he was also made editor of The Sketch.

When the First World War broke out Ingram was a lieutenant in the East Kent yeomanry. From 1916 until the end of the war he served in the Royal Garrison Artillery on the French front, being promoted to the rank of captain and awarded the Military Cross (1917), appointed an OBE (military, 1918), and three times mentioned in dispatches. He was able throughout the war to keep in reasonably close contact with his office in London, and thus to supervise the paper's coverage of the war, which extended to an additional weekly supplement history of the war, published on Wednesdays, as well as the normal weekly edition, published on Fridays. Because of its fairness and the high quality of its coverage of these events the Illustrated London News was used by the government to help make known abroad the extent of Britain's, and the Commonwealth's, war effort. The same compliment was paid to the publication in the Second World War when Ingram, still its editor but now too old for active service, was more directly involved in the day-to-day production.

Two of Ingram's particular interests throughout his life were archaeology and the collecting of pictures. He had, as a youth, twice visited Egypt, and these tours stimulated a lifelong curiosity about archaeology that was reflected in the regular reports on the subject which have always been a feature of the Illustrated London News. When he was twenty Ingram began to collect illuminated manuscripts, but after selling his collection in 1936 he concentrated his attention on collecting paintings and drawings, particularly on marine subjects. He published, in 1936, Three Sea Journals of Stuart Times, based on a study of naval manuscripts and journals, and from this developed his main preoccupation as a collector.

As a collector Ingram was exceptionally generous in his attitude to lending, and many tributes were paid both to his readiness to deprive himself of large parts of his collection so that others could see and enjoy them in public exhibitions, and to the hospitality he showed towards other collectors and students at his home in Great Pednor, Buckinghamshire. He was honorary keeper of drawings at the Fitzwilliam Museum, vice-president of the Society for Nautical Research, vice-president of the Navy Records Society, and honorary adviser on pictures and drawings to the National Maritime Museum.

As well as editor of the Illustrated London News from 1900 to 1963, and of the Sketch from 1905 to 1946, Ingram was chairman of the Illustrated London News and Sketch Ltd, director of Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Ltd, and president of Illustrated Newspapers Ltd. He was knighted in 1950, awarded the Légion d'honneur by the French government in the same year, and given the honorary degree of DLitt by Oxford University in 1960. He married, on 14 July 1904, Amy, daughter of John Foy; she died in 1947. On 12 November 1947 Ingram married Lily, daughter of Sydney Grundy, who died in 1962. There was one son, who died in childhood, and one daughter of the first marriage. Ingram died at his home, Great Pednor Manor, Buckinghamshire, on 8 January 1963.