Gerald Reid Barry was born in Surrey in 1898, and died the day after his seventieth birthday in 1968. He had been knighted in 1951, for organising the Festival of Britain, launched to counter the mood of austerity in the post-war years and as a centenary of the Great Exhibition. His father was an Anglican priest in Norfolk, and Gerald was the second son (of four). After Marlborough and Corpus Christi , Cambridge, he joined the army, and became a captain in the RFC during World War One.
After the war, he became a Daily Express leader writer, before becoming Assistant Editor of The Saturday Review in 1921, and Editor in 1924. In 1930, he founded The Weekend Review (see History) until its merger with New Statesman and Nation in 1934 – at which point he joined the NS&N board. In 1936, he became Managing Editor of News Chronicle. He stayed there until 1947.
Barry was also Deputy Chairman of the Committee on reform of Obscene Libel Laws, and an early TV executive. He was the Festival of Britain’s Director-General from 1948 to 1952 – this was very much his own idea, and there is a good account of it here. He was also involved in economic planning, something self-evident from his editorials and articles in The Weekend Review from its outset.
Barry was married four times – to Gladys Williams in 1921, to Helen Edith Selwyn Rigg from 1932 to 1943, to the actress Vera Poliakoff from 1944, and to Diana Wooton from 1959. He had one son from his first, and one son from his third marriage. The first was a well-known TV director and the second a well known theatre director.