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W.T. Stead & the Review of Reviews

The Review of Reviews was started in January, 1890 by W. T. Stead and Tit-Bits proprietor, George Newnes. It was originally to be called the Six Penny Monthly and Review of Reviews, but this was changed at the last minute. According to Stead, it was "the maddest thing" he had yet done, on account that the venture had been decided on only a month before. The Review mirrored Stead's own over-active imagination and was written almost exclusively by him. Along with the dozens of magazine and book reviews it contained, it also included a running commentary of world events entitled, "The Progress of the World", and a character sketch of a current "celebrity". The first issue was an instant success, and opened with numerous facsimiled welcome messages which Stead had courted from various dignitaries of the time. However, Stead's relationship with Newnes came under strain when the latter strongly objected to Stead's scathing character sketch of The Times newspaper (eventually published in March). Perhaps seeing this discord as a sign of things to come, Newnes severed ties, exclaiming that the whole venture was "turning his hair grey." After buying out Newnes' share, Stead shaped the Review after his own image. With article titles such as "Baby-killing as an Investment" and "Ought Mrs. Maybrick to be Tortured to Death?", Stead showed he had lost none of the sledge hammer force of his journalistic days. He also involved the Review in social work, setting up the "Association of of Helpers" and even an adoption agency called "The Baby Exchange". In 1891-92, Stead founded the equally successful American and Australian editions of the Review and, in London, he added to his success with other literary triumphs, such as Stead's Penny Poets and Books for the Bairns, all published under the Review's auspices. However, in spite of such successes, without the business-like Newnes to guide him, Stead frequently drove the Review to death's door, despite the best efforts of his business manager, Edwin H. Stout. This was particularly the case during the Boer War (1899-1902), when his pro-Boer stance caused sales to slump to critical levels. Stead's attempt to recoup his losses, with the launch of the ill-fated Daily Paper, was a complete failure and, almost bankrupt, he suffered a nervous breakdown. The Review somehow limped on, buoyed up by a narrow but devoted subscription base. But, just like the Northern Echo and the Pall Mall Gazette, it lost much of its force with the loss of Stead (in the Titanic disaster) and, in c. 1917, it was sold for just £25000. It was eventually merged with World magazine and renamed the World Review in 1940.

© Owen Mulpetre 2012

Character Sketches

Madame Olga Novikoff (1891)
Mrs. Annie Besant (1891)
Mr. Gladstone: Part I (1892)
Mr. Gladstone: Part II (1892)
Jay Gould (1893)
Mark Twain (1897)
Leopold of the Congo (1903)
W. Randolph Hearst (1908)
George V (1910)
David Lloyd George (1910)

Miscellaneous Articles

Programme (Stead's mission statement, 1890)
To All English-Speaking Folk (1890)
My Experience with Phrenology (1891)
How to Become Journalism (1891)
From the Old World to the New (1892)
Young Women in Journalism (1892)
Ought Mrs. Maybrick be Tortured to Death? (1892)
An Offer of 100, 000 to my Readers (on the Daily Paper Company, 1893)
The Daily Paper (more on the Daily Paper, 1893)
Exit the Daily Paper (the Daily Paper abandoned, 1894)
A North Country Worthy (1894)
The Conviction of Oscar Wilde (1895)
The Very Latest Goldfield in the Arctic Circle (1900)
Our Death Camps in South Africa (1902)
Ought King Leopold to Be Hanged? (1905)
The Protest of the Women in the Lobby (1906)
A Six Days' Working Week (1910)
The Woman's Procession of June 18th (1910)
Florence Nightingale (1910)
Woman's Suffrage in the Ascendant (1911)
Men and Religion Forward Movement (One of Stead's last articles, 1912)
The Great Pacifist (Published posthumously in the Australasian R of R, 1912)

Reviews &c

Stead Tributes &c