Norris Dewar McWhirter

Norris Dewar McWhirter

Journalist, writer, political activist and television presenter
Date of Birth: 12.08.1925
Country: Great Britain

Biography of Norris Dewar McWhirter

Norris Dewar McWhirter was a journalist, writer, political activist, and television presenter. Alongside his brother Ross McWhirter, he co-created the Guinness Book of Records. Born into the family of William McWhirter, the editor of the 'Sunday Pictorial' newspaper, and his wife Margaret Williamson, Norris and Ross McWhirter were twins. Norris, like his two brothers, attended Marlborough College and Trinity College, where he completed his law studies in two years instead of the usual three.

Norris Dewar McWhirter

From 1943 to 1946, Norris served in the Royal Navy and traveled in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He was always a keen sportsman and represented Scotland in running competitions in the 1950s. In 1950, Norris and Ross ventured into sports journalism and published their first book, 'Get to Your Marks,' while also establishing an information agency that specialized in providing facts and data for consumers. Around the same time, Norris founded the Association of Track and Field Statisticians.

Norris McWhirter gained fame while working as a sports commentator for the BBC. On May 6, 1954, he provided a detailed account of the achievements of Roger Bannister, the winner of a race, catching the attention of Guinness executives. With the recommendation of another runner, Christopher Chataway, Norris and Ross McWhirter met with the company's leaders, who quickly realized that the brothers possessed an incredible wealth of knowledge about records and unusual facts, making them perfect for their envisioned project. The first edition of the Guinness Book of Records was published in August 1955, quickly becoming a bestseller despite its relatively thin size of only 198 pages.

In the early 1960s, Norris McWhirter was an active member of the Conservative Party and attempted to participate in elections, but without much success, just like his brother. In the 1970s, Norris and Ross organized the National Association for Freedom, which played an active role in important political processes such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In 1975, Ross McWhirter was tragically killed by IRA militants due to a reward he had offered for information about the perpetrators and instigators of recent London bombings. After his brother's death, Norris continued working on the Guinness Book of Records alone.

In 1985, Norris McWhirter stepped down as the editor of the book. He served as a consultant for some time until 1996, but eventually lost that role as well. McWhirter continued writing, and in 1999, his new book, 'Norris McWhirter's Book of Millennium Records,' was published. In 1985, Norris attempted to sue the Independent Broadcasting Authority for briefly featuring a naked woman's body with Norris' head attached to it on their show 'Spitting Image.' Unfortunately, he was not successful in the lawsuit.

Norris McWhirter married Carole Eckert in 1957. After her passing, he remarried his secretary, Tessa von Weichardt, in 1990. Norris McWhirter passed away on April 19, 2004, due to a heart attack.