Author and journalist Brian MacArthur dies, aged 79

Author and journalist Brian MacArthur dies, aged 79

Former journalist and author Brian MacArthur has died, aged 79.

One of the longest serving journalists in Fleet Street, he was founder editor of former national newspaper Today and the Times Higher Education Supplement, more recently editing books content for the Times and the Telegraph, as well as writing several books such as Deadline Sunday (Hodder & Stoughton), Surviving the Sword and For King and Country (both published by Little, Brown). He also edited The Penguin Book of Modern Speeches (Penguin Random House). He sold 58,626 books for £664,680, according to Nielsen BookScan.

MacArthur died of leukaemia on March 24th aged 79, as reported in the Times.

Dotti Irving, c.e.o. of Four Colman Getty, described MacArthur as "a very special man" who she will miss "hugely".

"Brian was a one-off - a truly talented, shrewd and decisive journalist who never lost his nose for a story, nor his ability to laugh at a good one," she told The Bookseller.

"I first met Brian when I was heading up PR for Penguin, so our friendship goes back over 30 years. In that time, particularly once I had set up Colman Getty, we’ve negotiated serial deals, author interviews, sell-out events with Stephen Hawking and J K Rowling at the Albert Hall – plus a host of other one-off excitements.

"It was thanks to Brian that we produced the Times supplement to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Booker Prize. Brian  and I plotted to bring the Times in as the sponsor of the Cheltenham Literary Festival, a sponsorship which still exists today."

MacArthur, born in Essex in 1940, was at the centre of the Hitler Diaries scandal of 1983, in which the Sunday Times serialised what emerged to be elaborate faked diaries of the Führer. After departing the Sunday Times shortly after the scandal, which saw circulation rise, he became editor of the Western Morning News for two years before taking on a new new national newspaper, Today, with a mission "to adopt the computer technology that would break the stranglehold of the print unions, enable colour printing and revolutionise Fleet Street,” the Times said.

MacArthur left Today in 1987 to rejoin the Sunday Times but his experience inspired his account of the period, Eddy Shah: Today and the Newspaper Revolution (David & Charles). His final stint at the Times came in 1991, the newspaper said, when he was brought back to oversee books and travel. His final job was as the books editor of the Daily Telegraph from 2006 to 2010. 

Irving described MacArthur as "responsible for changing the face of print media".

He is survived by his wife, the writer Maureen Waller as well as two daughters from his second marriage: Tessa and Georgina.