Muckraker: The Scandalous Life and Times of W. T. Stead, Britain's First Investigative Journalist

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9781849542944: Muckraker: The Scandalous Life and Times of W. T. Stead, Britain's First Investigative Journalist

Winner of the Political Book Awards 2013 Best Political Biography. The era of sensational tabloid journalism began in Britain in the summer of 1885 when W. T. Stead, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, ran a newspaper campaign entitled 'The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon'. In a series of flesh-creeping articles, the editor revealed how he had 'purchased' a child of thirteen from her parents for sinister purposes darkly hinted at to the reader. The result was a two-week national panic, culminating in the raising of the age of consent from thirteen to sixteen - and the conviction of Stead for kidnapping the child unwittingly at the centre of his story. In this pioneering biography, author W. Sydney Robinson follows Stead from his modest beginnings as the son of a Nonconformist minister in Newcastle to his years of power as an influential London newspaper editor before later being dismissed as a madman for his obsession with the occult and (more unfairly) promoting world peace. He was last seen helping women and children into lifeboats as the Titanic went down. Always sure in the righteousness of his cause, and regarding no methods as too extreme for his ends, Stead remains, in the age of Leveson, both a model and a warning for investigative journalists worldwide.

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Will Robinson is a historian and journalist.

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'Closely researched and briskly written, Robinson's admirably thoughtful and economical biography does an excellent job of explaining one of the most extraordinary individuals in journalistic history.' Sunday Times 'A timely, well-written biography of the brilliant, flawed Victorian journalist.' Daily Mail 'A lively and laconic biography.' London Review of Books 'In this remarkably timely and entertaining biography, W. Sydney Robinson tells the story of British newspapers through the life of a man who, the historian argues, was also Britain's first investigative journalist... Equally fascinating are the insights into his personal life.' The Times 'Will Robinson presents new material about Stead's life taken from his personal papers, previously suppressed by his wife, and gives us a rounded portrait of this father of journalistic campaigning. Even if you're not interested in the rise of investigative reporting, this is a remarkable story and worth a read.' Your Family Tree

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