Admitted to a Mental Hospital: Gordon Bennett

Russell T. Davies and Ian McEwan are just two of many writers who like to imagine how the world might have “unfolded” had there been slight changes to past events. Serendipity (so very real) is best revealed through art.

I wonder what story might have unfolded had Gordon Bennett been admitted to a ‘Mental Hospital’?

“And the Gordon Bennett Trophy goes to . . .”

It is likely that you will know the phrase “Gordon Bennett” as an expression of incredulity. But who was Gordon Bennett? And why is he remembered in this way?

James Gordon Bennett junior (1841-1918) was publisher of the New York Herald and inherited his father’s talents for journalism and controversy. When he died his estate was worth $76 million. His life long interest was in sporting competitions and he sponsored races in ballooning, yachting and motoring:

Gordon Bennett’s business practices often caught the public’s attention:

He was not afraid of risk and of public disapproval. He turned this to his financial advantage:

He understood that stories sell and the more sensational the better:

Some of these stories were little more than hot air:

He realised that, if he could speed communications across the world, he could sell his stories  before his competitors:

Often from the obscurity of one of his many yachts, he was able to steer the popular conversations of the day:

Gordon Bennett was a fascinating figure and it has been illuminating to learn about his business methods. It is always worth remembering Gordon Bennett when considering the sources of information that seek to inform us:

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