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John Fairfax

by Achille Simonetti

carrara marble on scagliola column (76.5 cm)

John Fairfax (1804-1877) was a newspaper publisher whose purchase of the Sydney Morning Herald in 1841 began a family association with the paper that would last for over five generations and nearly 150 years. No other newspaper in the world has been so long under one family's control and no other family in Australia has subsequently formed such a successful entrepreneurial dynasty. Born in England, John Fairfax left school at the age of twelve and was apprenticed to a printer and bookseller. In 1838 he immigrated to Sydney with his wife Sarah (née Reading). Three years later he and partner Charles Kemp purchased the seven-year old Sydney Herald and the following year renamed it the Sydney Morning Herald. In 1853 John Fairfax bought out Kemp and went into partnership with his eldest son, Charles John Fairfax (1829-1863).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of John Fairfax Holdings Ltd 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2002.76