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The Papers of William T. Stead

Reference Code: GBR/0014/STED

Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection is Stead's letters from his many correspondents including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Gladstone, and Christabel Pankhurst. There are also papers relating to his time in prison, and to his many publications. Material related to interviews with Royal and political figures and notes for work are also included.


  • Creation: 1871 - 1987

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Stead was born in Embleton on 5 July 1849, the son of Rev. W. Stead, a Congregational Minister. He was educated at Silcoates School, Wakefield and in 1873 he married Emma L. Wilson, and they had six children. Stead began his working life as an apprentice at a merchant’s office in Newcastle-on-Tyne, when he was 14. At the age of 22, he became the editor of the "Northern Echo" in Darlington, 1871 - 1880. He was the assistant editor of the "Pall Mall Gazette" 1880 -1883, and its editor 1883 -1889. In 1885 he exposed the ease of acquiring a prostitute in London by purchasing a 13 year old, Eliza Armstrong. He published a series of articles entitled ‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’ and was imprisoned at Holloway Prison for three months. He founded the "Review of Reviews" in 1890, also the American Review of Reviews in 1891 and the Australasian Review of Reviews in 1894. Stead preached the Peace Crusade after visiting the Tsar of Russia in 1898, and he founded and edited the weekly paper "War against War". After the Hague Conference, which he attended, he strongly opposed the war with the Transvaal [South Africa]. Stead died on 15 April 1912; he was on board the "Titantic" on route to take part in a peace congress at Carnegie Hall at the request of William Howard Taft, but failed to reach a life boat in time.


16 archive box(es)

61 volume(s)

Language of Materials



The papers are arranged into 8 series, with the correspondence sorted alphabetically by correspondent. Series 9 was added in 2019 because of a new accession.

Other Finding Aids

A copy of this finding aid is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, the National Register of Archives, London, and on the Janus website,

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was deposited at Churchill Archives Centre by members of the Stead family between 1986-1996 and 2012. Accession 2094 was provided by the family in July 2019.

Related Materials

Churchill Archives Centre also holds the papers of Sir Winston Churchill (reference code GBR/0014/CHUR and CHAR) Viscount Esher [Reginald Brett] (reference code GBR/0014/ESHR) and the papers of the Dilke-Crawford-Roskill family (Reference GBR/0014/REND). A complete set of the 'Review of Reviews' is also available to consult at the Archives Centre. Please ask staff for further details.


Publications: Stead's publications include: "Truth about the Navy" (1884), "Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon" (1885), "The Truth about Russia" (1888), "The Pope and the New Era" (1889), "The Story that transformed the world" (1890), "If Christ came to Chicago" (1893), "The Labour War in the United States" (1894), "Her Majesty the Queen" (1897), "Satan's Invisible World: A Study of Despairing Democracy" (1897), "The United States of Europe" (1899), "Mr Carnegie's conundrum" (1900), "Mrs Booth, a study" (1900), "The Conference at the Hague" (1900), "The Americanisation of the World" (1900), "The Last Will and Testament of Cecil John Rhodes" (1900), "The Despised Sex" (1900), and various pamphlets against the war in South Africa (1900).


The collection was sorted and listed in 1988. Additional biographical information is taken from "Who's Who". The catalogue was converted in 2006 by Sandra Marsh.

Date information

DateText: Main date range of material is 1871-1912.


Stead, William Thomas (1849 - 1912), journalist and author

2002-01-16 16:51:13+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087