John Rutherford Gordon

98 – First horoscope column published in a newspaper

August 24, 1930

IT was surely written in the stars that a major milestone in the popularity of astrology was thanks to a Scotsman.

Some people swear by these predictions – others deride them.

What you can’t ignore is that everyone knows what they are and will undoubtedly have read one in their life, either seriously, critically or just for fun.

The first regular astrology column to feature in a newspaper appeared in the Sunday Express.

The paper’s then editor, John Rutherford Gordon, decided to publish a horoscope to mark the birth of Princess Margaret the previous Thursday in an article headlined: “What The Stars Foretell For The New Princess”.

The article proved so popular it led the editor to run it on a weekly basis.

It was yet another savvy decision from the talented Scottish journalist. Born and educated in Dundee, John Gordon left school aged 14 to join a local newspaper, and worked as a sub-editor in London.

He was appointed editor of the Sunday Express in 1928, turning what was deemed to be a failing title into one of the most profitable newspapers in the world.

During his tenure the paper’s circulation increased from 450,000 to 3,200,000.

He is also credited with introducing the first crossword puzzle in a British newspaper.

He retired in 1952 but wrote an acerbic Current Events column for the paper, which he continued until his death in 1974.