A biography of pioneering Victorian tabloid journalist WT Stead full of self-righteous fervour and political scandalIt is tempting to use this biography of pioneering Victorian tabloid journalist WT Stead as a prism through which to view the post-Leveson world. What it underlines, however, is how warped the morality of other ages can appear from a distance, whether that involves phone-hacking or the purchase of a 13-year-old girl to make a point about child prostitution on the streets of London. The latter is the defining moment in Stead’s turbulent life story, the epitome of his uneasy mixture of Puritanism and prurience. He was not reticent about expressing his views on the importance of his job – “God calls …to the only true throne in England, the Editor’s chair” – yet this biography unpicks the earthly passions that often compromised his crusading work. There is lots of political scandal to disentangle, but none more shocking than the story of Eliza Armstrong, the child caught up in his self-righteous, anti-prostitution fervour. Stead died on the Titanic, a suitably sensational end for a man whose motivations often lurked below the surface, nine-tenths hidden to himself but clear to those around him.BiographyHistoryVictoria Segaltheguardian.com © 2013 …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books