Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Gallard, Mark Edward (1899–1971)

by Stuart Inder

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Mark Edward Gallard (1899-1971), journalist and newspaper executive, was born on 29 April 1899 at Marsfield, Sydney, fifth of twelve children (nine of them boys) of native-born parents Silas James Gallard, orchardist, and his wife Lucy, née Hicks. The children grew up on the family's virtually self-sufficient 15-acre (6 ha) farm. On leaving Ryde Public School, Mark helped in the orchard and joined the Militia in 1916. Transferring to the Australian Imperial Force on 8 February 1918, he was posted to the 35th Battalion on 20 October, and spent nine months in France and England. He was discharged in Sydney on 8 October 1919 and found work as a clerk. His eldest brother Bertram had died from wounds in 1915; his youngest brother Clive was to be killed in action in Malaya in 1942.

Against his parents' wishes (as his fiancée was not a Baptist), on 16 July 1921 Gallard married Emily Young (d.1981) at the Baptist manse, Lewisham. In the 1920s he began reporting on sporting events and identities for Sydney newspapers, and contributed twenty-one episodes of a serial, 'The Millionaire Schoolboy', to the Boys Weekly in 1927. Having been news editor of the Daily Telegraph Pictorial, he was hired by Ezra Norton in 1933 as editor of the weekly newspaper, Truth. It had built its reputation on a recipe of sport, crime, scandal and prurient court cases.

Gallard widened the paper's appeal with more family features, but Norton (who had a sharp, often foul tongue and was given to bullying his staff) ensured that its raciness continued. In May 1935 the Full Court fined the company £200 and Gallard £50 for contempt of court over Truth's publication of a picture of the alleged murderer in the celebrated 'Shark arm case'. Gallard's counsel (Sir) William Owen argued in mitigation that it 'was not always easy for an editor to carry out his employer's policy'. Truth's sales increased from 196,000 in 1932 to 248,000 in 1938. In the latter year Gallard was appointed a director of Truth and Sportsman Ltd and sent on an eight-month world tour to help plan a new afternoon daily.

His work ensured the successful launching on 12 May 1941 of the Daily Mirror, a rival to the Sun. As editor-in-chief, Gallard exchanged active journalism for management; as Norton's right-hand man, he proved a loyal, competent and steadying influence. Norton trusted him to ensure that his editorial policies were carried out and that business matters requiring political support were tactfully handled. While he suffered under the unpleasant side of Norton's personality and attempted to shield the staff from its excesses, he genuinely respected Norton's independence, drive and expertise. The long and effective association with Norton was the major accomplishment of Gallard's career.

Like his chief, Gallard was a private man. A stocky 5 ft 6 ins (168 cm), with brown hair and deep brown eyes, and a heavy smoker, he kept his own counsel and was always polite and quietly spoken. Less well known was that he was generous to anybody in need and a dedicated family man, whom his growing son found 'more like a brother than a father'. Errol Coote, a Truth colleague, dedicated his book, Hell's Airport (1934), to Mark Gallard, 'One of the Whitest Men I Know'. Ion Idriess, another friend, regularly inscribed copies of his new books to him.

Following his retirement in 1955, Gallard remained on the board until 1958, when to his bitter disappointment Norton unexpectedly sold out to a company controlled by John Fairfax & Sons Pty Ltd. Gallard sometimes spoke of writing his memoirs, but lost interest in the idea. Survived by his wife and son, he died on 27 January 1971 at Ryde and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • E. Baume, I've Lived Another Year (Lond, 1942)
  • W. Olson, Baume, Man and Beast (Syd, 1967)
  • Newspaper News, June 1935, Mar and Nov 1938
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 25 May 1935
  • Sunday Mirror (Sydney), 31 Jan 1971
  • private information.

Citation details

Stuart Inder, 'Gallard, Mark Edward (1899–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gallard-mark-edward-10269/text18163, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 17 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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