Lord Milner on W. T. Stead

Quoted in The American Review of Reviews, (June, 1912), p. 696

The real truth was that he loved to develop his ideas dialectically, in discussion with someone personally congenial to him, but whose habit of mind was as dissimilar as possible to his own. How well I remember these daily conflicts. They were among the most vivid experiences of my life. It is impossible to give any idea of the force, the copiousness, the dexterity, the intellectual nimbleness, the range of readily available knowledge, the aptness of illustration, with which he would defend evn the most extravagant and paradoxical proposition. His instinct led him to provoke criticism, for it was only in reply to criticism that he could bring all his own forces into the field, and certainly no man less resented criticism or took a more keen delight in argumentative encounter. He would go on debating, with the printers screaming for "copy," till he sometimes left himself less than half an hour to write or dictate a leading article; then he would dash it off at top-speed and embody in it, with astonishing facility, the whole gist and essence of the preceding discussion.

It has been my good fortune in life to be brought into contact with an exceptional number of men of great and diverse ability. Among them all I cannot recall one who was anything like his equal in vitality. It is quite superfluous to dwell on his gifts as a writer; but his conversation was far more brilliant and stimulating than the best of his writing. I don't suppose any editor was ever so beloved by his staff, from the first lieutenant down to the office-boy. It was such fun to work with him. The tremendous "drive," the endless surprises, the red-hot pace at which everything was carried on, were rendered not only tolerable but delightful by his never-failing geniality and by that glorious gift of humor, not always apparent in his writing, which made him so fascinating a companion. His sympathy, his generosity, his kindliness were lavished on all who came within his reach.

About this website

I founded this website in 2001 to assist me in my own research on W.T. Stead, little knowing then that it would become the largest online resource on Stead's life and career. Today this site is used by students, scholars and institutions around the world and has significantly contributed to the Study of W.T. Stead and the evils which he campaigned against. I hope you find it useful.

If you have a question that explicitly concerns any of the content on this website, feel free to Contact me and I will get back to you at my earliest convenience. However, please note that I no longer work in academia. With a very "busy" business to run, the time I can spare responding to enquiries through this website is finite, to say the least. So, please do not ask me to do research for you or assist in matters of family history.

Finally, though this website includes a section on Stead's obsession with spiritualism, I myself am not remotely interested in the subject. So, if you think you have seen Stead's ghost in your kitchen or believe you are the reincarnation of the great editor himself (or anyone else who died on the Titanic), I beg you not to tell me about it..

Owen Mulpetre, BA (Hons) MPhil