William Thomas Stead (1849-1912), known as "W.T. Stead," was the son of a Congregationalist minister. With only two years of formal schooling, he became the youngest editor in England at the age of twenty-two when he began in 1871 editing the Northern Echo in Darlington. He gained international attention and the adherence of W.E. Gladstone with his articles opposing the Bulgarian atrocities 1876-1878 and helped to alter England's position in regard to Russia. In 1880 he moved to London to assist John Morley in editing the Pall Mall Gazette and became acting editor in 1883. In 1885 he shocked the world with his revelations of prostitution and white slavery in the city of London, in a series of four articles called "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon." For these he was sent to jail for two months, not for committing the crimes he exposed but for exposing them. He was the first journalist to interview a Tzar. His chief books at this time are Truth about Russia (1888) and the syndicated "Letters from the Vatican," reissued as The Pope and the New Era (1889).
In January of 1890, Stead founded the monthly international journal the Review of Reviews, which he edited until his death on the Titanic in April, 1912. A Liberal in politics and a Nonconformist in faith, he believed that journalism was a pulpit from which he could preach and effect social improvement; and--with popularizing the interview introducing crossheads (subtitles) and illustrations--he is widely acclaimed as an innovator. On the doctrine "always get the facts," he investigated widely complex and unpopular issues, reduced them to clarity and precision, and frequently wrought profound change. He founded the American Review of Reviews in 1891 and the Australasian Review of Reviews in 1892. Among many books and pamphlets during this time are Real Ghost Stories (1891), If Christ Came to Chicago (1894), The Labour War in the United States (1894), Satan's Invisible World (1897) about politics in New York City, Letters from Julia (1897) reprinted as After Death, The United States of Europe (1899), The Americanization of the World (1902), and The M.P. for Russia (1909), a two-volume biography of Madame Novikoff.
His fictional works are all historical fiction, with recognizable contemporaries striving romantically for his favorite causes. Chief among these are From the Old World to the New (in which he "predicted" the sinking of the Titanic), Two and Two Make Four, The Splendid Paupers, and Here Am I; Send Me!
Advocating not only female suffrage but also military service for women, Stead in his favorite role was a knight rushing to the rescue of a woman wronged--Eliza Armstrong, Mildred Langworthy, Mrs. Maybrick. He risked violating his own rules of journalism not to betray a confidence when he espoused the cause of Israel Lipski, a Jew convicted of murder. He cared not how unpopular a cause was, or how much contumely was heaped upon him, but only to "get the thing done." He did not reject a person because of an unpopular doctrine but sought to work with the best the person had to offer; and this explains his friendship with the Imperialist Cecil Rhodes, although Stead was staunchly democratic.
In the 1890s he took up spiritualism and edited for four years a psychic journal called Borderland. After the huge success of organizing support for the Tzar's Rescript, leading to the first Peace Conference at The Hague in 1899, he lost favor with many of the public by opposing the British position in the Boer War. In 1895 he began publishing the series of penny paperbacks called "Books for the Bairns" as well as Penny Poets, Penny Novels, and Prose Classics. He founded the Scholars' International Correspondence and furthered the use of Esperanto. On his second trip to the United States in 1907 he was awarded an honorary doctorate. As a peace crusader he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1903, and newspapers reported that he was the likely recipient in 1912, when responding to a call to speak at the Great Men and Religion Forward Movement in Carnegie Hall, he died on the Titanic.
W.T. Stead / Influence on Joyce / NewsStead / The Editor
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