a media industry resource

Maxwell: landmarks


This chronology is indicative only. It covers -

  • antecedents (1818)
  • beginnings (1949)
  • "not a fit and proper person" (1969)
  • newspaper mogul (1984)
  • collapse (1988)
  • aftermath (1992)

Context is provided by the broader communications and media timeline on this site.


1818 Butterworths founded

1848 Springer Verlag founded

1915 Rothermere launches Sunday Pictorial (later Sunday Mirror)

1923 Jan Ludwik Hoch born in Czechoslovakia

1940 takes name Robert Maxwell

1946 becomes sole UK and US distributor for Germany's Springer scientific publishers

1947 Harmsworths float Daily Mirror


1949 Maxwell founds Pergamon Press

1951 buys Butterworth and Springer interests in Pergamon

1955 month-long national press strike in UK. Daily Record acquired by Mirror Group

1964 becomes UK Labour MP for North Buckinghamshire

1964 Purnell & Sons merge with Hazell Sun to form British Printing Corporation in response to bid by News of the World

1968 Maxwell makes unsuccessful bid for News of the World

"Not a fit and proper person"

1969 financial scandal over attempted sale of Pergamon to Steinberg's Leasco Data Processing. Maxwell censured by government, loses Pergamon and seat in Parliament

1970 establishes Maxwell Foundation in Liechtenstein

1973 UK Department of Trade & Industry report declares that he is "not a person who can be relied on to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company"

1973 Macmillan Company of New York becomes Macmillan Inc

1974 regains control of Pergamon

1980 buys 29.5% stake in British Printing Corporation (BPC)

1981 gains control of BPC, which is renamed British Printing & Communications Corporation - later Maxwell Communications Corporation (MCC)

1981 chair and chief executive of Maxwell Communications Corp

1982 buys Odhams Printers from Reed

1982 Odhams merged with Sun Printers

1982 buys 85% of Hollis

1983 unsuccessful bid for John Waddington printing, packaging and games group

Newspaper mogul

1984 buys Mirror Group Newspapers from Reed International for £93m

1984 buys Bishopsgate Trust

1984 buys 10.5% stake in Fleet newspapers

1985 sells Fleet stake to United Newspapers

1985 buys 90% stake in British Cable Services

1985 buys stake in Central TV

1985 buys Thomas Forman printers, United Printing Services, Pulman Webb Offset, Leagrave Press and Soman-Wherry Press

1985 buys new stake in Fleet

1985 buys stake in Britannia Arrow (formerly Slater Walker Securities)

1986 buys Orbis Book Publishing

1986 buys 24.6% stake in Extel

1986 buys Philip Hill Investment Trust

1986 buys Webb printing group and Providence Gravure in US

1986 increases Central TV stake to 20%

1987 buys stake in US printer RR Donnelley

1987 fails to gain control of Extel, sells stake

1987 British Printing & Communications Corp renamed Maxwell Communications Corporation

1987 joins Bouygues consortium, takes 12.5% stake in French tv channel TF1

1987 bids for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

1987 buys Standard Catalogue Co

1987 launches London Daily News as a 24-hour newspaper

1987 buys Diversified Printing Corp in US

1987 buys Oyez Press and Aberdeen Uni Press

1987 buys stakes in Elsevier, BP, Midland Bank, Singer & Friedlander

1987 buys stakes in Henry Ansbacher, Hachette, Warburg, Quebecor, Sainsbury, Storehouse, Bell and Wolters Kluwer

1987 buys stakes in Bell Resources, Bell & Howell, Norton Opax, Guinness Peat, Nova Pharmaceuticals

1987 buys 14.9% stake in De La Rue printing group

1987 buys stake in Donohoe pulp & paper for C$157m

1987 buys United Trade Press

1987 buys Nimbus Records

1987 buys Columbia Computing Services

1988 increases stake in Norton Opax to 23.6%

1988 buys Evan Steadman Communications for £5.2m

1988 buys Science Research Associates

1988 buys stake in Christian Dior

1988 buys stake in Societe Generale for £44m

1988 buys stake in Control Data and in National Computing Systems

1988 buys Home & Law Magazines

1988 buys 10% of Canal 10

1988 buys Armed Forces Journal International

1988 buys 67% of Imprimerie Francois

1988 buys stake in Banco Commercial Portuguese

1988 buys stake in Havas

1988 buys stake in Euris investment trust

1988 buys AGB Research for £134m

1988 buys Official Airline Guide (OAG) from Dun & Bradstreet for US$750m


1988 buys US Macmillan for US$2.6bn

1988 appoints self as chairman and chief executive of US Macmillan

1989 buys stake in Paramount (later absorbed by Viacom)

1989 sells Macdonald Children's Books, Macdonald Educational, Beehive, and Purnell to Simon & Schuster

1989 buys Sphere Books from Pearson's Penguin for £13.75m

1989 buys Prentice Hall Information Services

1989 buys Merrill Publishing

1989 Pergamon sells educational publishing arm of EJ Arnold to Thomson's Nelson

1989 buys stake in Scottish Investment Trust

1990 launches European

1990 investigative journalist explores allegations that Maxwell-controlled pension schemes have been fiddled

1990 sells 21% stake in De La Rue for £74m

1991 buys New York Daily News from Tribune

1991 sells Pergamon to Elsevier for £440m

1991 sells Maxwell Macmillan Professional & Business Reference Publishing Division to Thomson for £33m

1991 floats MGN as public company

1991 Maxwell goes overboard


1992 Maxwell's companies file for bankruptcy protection in UK and US, remaining stakes in other groups sold

1997 Mirror Group buys Midland Independent Newspapers for £297m

1999 Trinity merges with Mirror Group Newspapers in deal worth £1.3bn