Who was Gordon Bennett?
The outrageous man behind the expression
History has given us three. Henry Gordon Bennett was an Australian general who controversially escaped from Singapore after its surrender to the Japanese in 1942. James Gordon Bennett founded the New York Herald. His son, James Gordon Bennett Junior, was also a newspaper man (he sent Stanley to Africa to search for Dr Livingstone), but he seems to have preferred to pass his time spending his inheritance. He loved sailing and racing and was a keen sponsor of long-distance ballooning. Gordon Bennett Junior was well–known for his ‘unconventional’ behaviour. His engagement to socialite Caroline May was apparently broken off in 1877 after he arrived drunk at his future in-laws’ house and urinated into the fireplace! Whether the expression ‘Gordon Bennett’ is specifically named after him or whether it’s simply a euphemism for an oath like ‘Gawd Almighty’ remains a matter of debate.