When William Stead died on the maiden voyage of the Titanic in April 1912, he was the most famous Englishman on board. He was one of the inventors of the modern tabloid. His advocacy of ‘government by journalism’ helped launch military campaigns. His exposé of child prostitution raised the age of consent to sixteen, yet his investigative journalism got him thrown in jail. A mass of contradictions and a crucial figure in the history of the British press, Stead was a towering presence in the cultural life of late Victorian and Edwardian society.
This conference marks the centenary of his death. We aim to recover Stead’s extraordinary influence on modern English culture and to mark a major moment in the history of journalism. In 2012 the British Library will open its state of the art newspaper reading rooms. In Stead’s spirit we will also investigate our own revolution in newspapers and print journalism in the age of digital news.
With Stead as a focal point, we will use aspects of his career to develop multiple avenues into the history of his time and ours. This is not a narrowly focused specialist conference, but one that aims to adopt wide cultural perspectives.Twitter. Conference hashtag: #stead12
Professor Laurel Brake (Birkbeck College)
Ed King (Head of Newspaper Collections, British Library)
Professor Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck College)
Dr James Mussell (University of Birmingham)