“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Monday, 6 May 2013

W. T. Stead

Pictured below on the banks of the Thames in London is a bronze monument to William Thomas Stead (5 July 1849 – 15 April 1912), which is the twin of an identical monument in Central Park, New York.

Stead was an English journalist and editor who is considered to be the pioneer of investigative journalism and the father of the tabloid. Stead is most famously known for using investigative journalism techniques to publicise the plight of young girls who were at times sold into servitude abroad, and Stead's work supported a government bill trying to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16 (commonly known as the "Stead Act").

What is less known about Stead is that he had an interest in spiritualism and psychic research and in 1893 he founded a short lived spiritualist publication call "Borderland". During the lifetime of the publication Stead frequently claimed to be in receipt of messages from the spirit world, from dead American journalist Julia Ames. Stead also had an assistant editor (Ada Goodrich Freer) with whom he claimed to regularly communicate with by telepathy and automatic writing.

Perhaps before the advent of "Borderland" Stead had already been dabbling with the spirit world and had had a glimmer of what his future held. In 1886 Stead published an article entitled "How the Mail Steamer went down in Mid Atlantic by a Survivor", in which a steamer collides with another ship resulting in a high death toll due to lack of lifeboats. Then in 1892 Stead published a story called "From the Old World to the New", in which a ship rescues survivors of another ship that had had the misfortune of colliding with an iceberg. Unsurprisingly Stead was of course himself one of the victims of the Titanic disaster in 1912!

Stead's Monument in London.

Pictures, London (May 2012).

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