The newspaper giant who went down with the Titanic - Conference at the British Library to mark centenary of the death of W.T. Stead

When William Stead died on the maiden voyage of the Titanic in April 1912, he was one of the most famous Englishmen on board. In the 1880s, at a time of revolution in mass culture and print technology, he helped invent the modern tabloid, publishing a series of hugely influential campaigns when editor of The Pall Mall Gazette.

The British Library, in association with Birkbeck College and the University of Birmingham, is to host a two-day conference exploring Stead’s life, work and legacy. W.T. Stead: A Centenary Conference for a Newspaper Revolutionary, runs 16 -17 April 2012 and will feature more than 40 speakers from around the world.

William Stead was one of the inventors of the modern tabloid and 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.

At times contradictory but also 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 aims to recover Stead’s extraordinary influence on modern English culture and also investigate our own revolution in newspapers and print journalism in the age of digital news.

Speakers at the conference include Laurel Brake (Birkbeck College) and John Durham Peters (University of Iowa) and Jim Draper, Vice-President of Gale Cengage.

“Stead’s legacy as a campaigning editor and publisher seems ever more relevant in the age of today’s newspaper scandals and the Leveson enquiry,” said Ed King, Head of Newspapers at the British Library and one of the organisers of the conference. “This conference will see a wide-ranging reappraisal of that legacy, as well as exploring the exciting ways in which digital research is opening up and enabling new avenues of historical enquiry.”

Notes to Editors

W.T. Stead: A Centenary Conference for a Newspaper Revolutionary takes place 16 - 17 April 2012 and will feature more than 40 speakers from around the world.

Tickets can be booked by visiting the Box Office in the St Pancras building or phoning 01937 546546.

The programme for the conference can be found at

Two day ticket: £85.00
Single day ticket: £45.00

For more information:

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+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

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