Nora Beloff

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Nora Beloff

Leah Nora Beloff (24 January 1919 – 12 February 1997) was an English journalist and political writer. She worked for The Observer for three decades, from 1948 to 1978, and became a political correspondent in 1964, making her the first woman in such a role for a British newspaper.

<i>The Observer</i> weekly British newspaper, published on Sundays

The Observer is a British newspaper published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its sister papers The Guardian and The Guardian Weekly, whose parent company Guardian Media Group Limited acquired it in 1993, it takes a social liberal or social democratic line on most issues. First published in 1791, it is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.


Early life

Beloff was born in Kensington, London to Simon Beloff and Marie Katzin. [1] Her parents were of Russian–Jewish background, and her siblings included the historian Max Beloff, Baron Beloff, the psychologist John Beloff, the biochemist Anne Beloff-Chain and the headmistress Renee Soskin. She attended King Alfred School and read history at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, graduating in 1940. [2] [3]

Kensington district within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in central London

Kensington is an affluent district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, West London, England.

Max Beloff, Baron Beloff British historian and Conservative peer

Max Beloff, Baron Beloff was a British historian and Conservative peer. From 1974 to 1979 he was principal of the University College of Buckingham, now the University of Buckingham.

John Beloff British psychologist and author

John Beloff was a psychology professor at Edinburgh University and parapsychologist.


After graduating from Oxford, Beloff worked for the British Foreign Office in 1941, [4] joining its political intelligence department. She moved to Paris in 1944 to work for the British embassy, and stayed in Paris after World War II to work for Reuters. [3] She worked for The Economist (1946–1948) [5] and then The Observer as a Paris-based correspondent. [2] She left Paris to cover the Cold War for The Observer from Washington, D.C. (1949–51), [4] and Moscow. Her work first attracted significant attention during the Algerian War, when she reported on the torture of two women rebels, Djamila Bouhired and Djamila Boupacha, by French soldiers. [3]

Reuters International news organization owned by Thomson Reuters

Reuters is an international news organization. It is a division of Thomson Reuters and has nearly 200 locations around the world. Until 2008, the Reuters news agency formed part of an independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data. Since the acquisition of Reuters Group by the Thomson Corporation in 2008, the Reuters news agency has been a part of Thomson Reuters, making up the media division. Reuters transmits news in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Urdu, Arabic, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. It was established in 1851.

<i>The Economist</i> English weekly news and international affairs publication

The Economist is an English-language weekly magazine-format newspaper owned by the Economist Group and edited at offices in London. Continuous publication began under its founder James Wilson in September 1843. In 2015, its average weekly circulation was a little over 1.5 million, about half of which were sold in the United States. Pearson PLC held a 50% shareholding via The Financial Times Limited until August 2015. At that time, Pearson sold their share in the Economist. The Agnelli family's Exor paid £287m to raise their stake from 4.7% to 43.4% while the Economist paid £182m for the balance of 5.04m shares which will be distributed to current shareholders. Aside from the Agnelli family, smaller shareholders in the company include Cadbury, Rothschild (21%), Schroder, Layton and other family interests as well as a number of staff and former staff shareholders.

Cold War Geopolitical tension after World War II between the Eastern and Western Bloc

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins between 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and the Truman Doctrine of 1947, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989, which ended communism in Eastern Europe, and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, when nations of the Soviet Union abolished communism and restored their independence. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.

In 1964 she returned to London following her appointment as a political correspondent for The Observer; this made her the first woman political correspondent of a British newspaper. In this role, she often wrote critical pieces about the Labour Party, and Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson consequently petitioned The Observer to dismiss her. [2] [5] She remained in this post until 1976, and then worked as a special correspondent. [4] Beloff left The Observer in 1978 after 30 years due to disagreements with its new editor, Donald Trelford. [3]

The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom that has been described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists. The party's platform emphasises greater state intervention, social justice and strengthening workers' rights.

Harold Wilson former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, was a British Labour politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.

Donald Trelford is a British journalist and academic, who was editor of The Observer newspaper from 1975 to 1993. He was also a director of The Observer from 1975 to 1993 and chief executive from 1992 to 1993.

Beloff wrote five books during her career: The General Said No (1963), Transit of Britain (1973), Freedom under Foot (1976), No Travel Like Russian Travel (1979) and Tito's Flawed Legacy (1985). She travelled extensively across Europe in her later career and, while reporting on the persecution of Soviet Jews, was arrested in Georgia and expelled from Yugoslavia. [2]

Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia socialist republic in Southeast Europe between 1943 and 1992

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a country located in central and Southeastern Europe that existed from its foundation in the aftermath of World War II until its dissolution in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. Covering an area of 255,804 km², the SFRY was bordered by the Adriatic Sea and Italy to the west, Austria and Hungary to the north, Bulgaria and Romania to the east, and Albania and Greece to the south.

She was long lampooned in the satirical magazine Private Eye under the nickname "Nora Ballsoff". She fought two legal actions against the magazine; she won libel damages of £3,000 but lost a breach of copyright action. [6] [7]

<i>Private Eye</i> British satirical and current affairs magazine

Private Eye is a British fortnightly satirical and current affairs news magazine, founded in 1961. It is published in London and has been edited by Ian Hislop since 1986.

Personal life and death

Beloff was married to Clifford Makins, a sports editor for The Observer, from 1977 until his death in 1990. [5] She died of a pulmonary embolism secondary to Hodgkin's lymphoma at the Royal Free Hospital, London, in 1997. [2] After her death, Beloff's former editor Donald Trelford wrote that she "had one of the most distinguished careers any woman has had in British journalism". [8]

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Trelford, Donald (2004). "Beloff, (Leah) Nora (1919–1997)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford University Press. (Subscription required (help)).
  3. 1 2 3 4 Millinship, William (15 February 1997). "Obituary: Nora Beloff". The Independent . Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 Griffiths, Dennis (1992). The Encyclopedia of the British Press, 1422–1992. London & Basingstoke: Macmillan. p. 101.
  5. 1 2 3 Pace, Eric (23 February 1997). "Nora Beloff, British Reporter, 78". The New York Times . Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  6. "That English look" New Law Journal 23 February 2007, Geoffrey Bindman
  7. All England Law Reports/1973/Volume 1 /Beloff v Pressdram Ltd and another
  8. Trott, Jan; Jenkinson, Hannah; Yamin, Mariam (22 February 2012). "Nora Beloff – foreign correspondent". The Guardian . Retrieved 3 April 2016.