The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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William Thomas Stead, 1849-1912

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1849
Place of Birth: Embleton, near Newcastle
Date of Death: 1912.04
Place of Death: Titanic


William Thomas Stead, journalist and author, was the son of a Yorkshire Congregationalist minister. He married Emma Lucy Wilson in 1873 and they had six children.


Stead's career took off in 1870 when he began to contribute articles to the Northern Echo, a new liberal daily paper. He moved to London in 1880 to become assistant editor to John Morley on the Pall Mall Gazette. When Morley was elected an MP in 1883, Stead succeeded him as editor. Stead was a leading radical journalist who turned the Gazette into an organ for political and social reform.

He appears to have entered into JW's disputes with enthusiasm and published a number of letters and articles from and relating to him. In March 1885 JW drew Sketch of 'Arrangement in Black: Portrait of Señor Pablo de Sarasate' (M.998) for reproduction in the Pall Mall Gazette, and presented it to Morley. He probably drew Sketch of 'Arrangement in Black: Portrait of Señor Pablo de Sarasate' (M.998) at the same time, also for reproduction. It was probably also acquired by Morley. In these works he included not only the image on canvas but the frame also, making it clear that these were drawings of a painting (see Arrangement in Black: Portrait of Señor Pablo de Sarasate (YMSM 315)), rather than independent portraits.

In July 1885, Stead's campaigning articles against child prostitution 'The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon' resulted in a three-month prison term. In 1890 he left the Pall Mall Gazette to begin his own periodical the Review of Reviews. It was a success but his attempt to found a morning paper the Daily Paper in 1904 ended in failure.

Stead died when the ship the Titanic struck an iceberg on 15 April 1912.


Dictionary of National Biography, online edition (accessed 5 April 2004); Whyte, Frederic, The Life of W. T. Stead, London, 1925.