W. T. Stead: Nonconformist and Newspaper Prophet

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

W. T. Stead (1849–1912), newspaper editor, author, social reformer, advocate for women’s rights, peace campaigner, spiritualist, was one of the best-known public figures in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain. This a religious biography of Stead, giving particular attention to Stead’s conception of journalism, in an age of growing mass literacy, as a means to communicate religious truth and morality, and his view of the editor’s desk as a modern pulpit from which the editor could preach to a congregation of tens of thousands. The book explores how his Nonconformist Conscience and sense of divine calling infused his newspaper crusades, most famously his ‘Maiden Tribute’ campaign against child prostitution, and it considers his efforts, through forms of participatory journalism, to create a ‘union of all who love in the service of all who suffer’ and a ‘Civic Church’. The book considers his growing interest in spiritualism and the occult as he searched for the evidence of an afterlife that might draw people of an increasingly secular age back to faith. It discusses his imperialism and his belief in the English-speaking peoples of the British Empire and American Republic as God’s new chosen people for the spread of civilization, and it considers how his growing understanding of other faiths and cultures, but more especially his moral revulsion over the South African War of 1899–1902, brought him to question those beliefs. Finally, it assesses the influence of religious faith on his campaigns for world peace and the arbitration of international disputes.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages256
ISBN (Print)9780198832539
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2019

Publication series

NameSpiritual Lives
PublisherOxford University Press

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • W. T. Stead
  • Nonconformist Conscience
  • journalism
  • religion
  • feminism
  • civic church
  • spiritualism
  • telepathy
  • imperialism
  • peace campaign


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