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Hi. I hope you are finding the W.T. Stead Resource Site helpful. As a subscription-free resource, this website depends on donations to help with the cost of development, hosting and historical research. Please consider making a contribution to help me preserve this valuable resource for future researchers. All donations are very gratefully received and you can donate as much or as little as you like (just hit the PayPal button below). Thank-you.

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W.T. Stead & Spiritualism

Stead's interest in Spiritualism seems to have begun in his final year at the Northern Echo, probably through his association with Mark Fooks, his assistant editor, who "had some knowledge of the matter." But it was not until he moved to London that he began to take a serious interest. In 1881, he attended his first seance where, he later claimed, he was hailed as the future "St. Paul of Spiritualism." Though he continued to dabble in spiritualism during his time at the Pall Mall Gazette, political and editorial contraints prevented him from over-indulging, and it was not until he became his own boss as owner and editor of the Review of Reviews in 1890, that he was able to pursue his interest further. In 1891, he published Real Ghost Stories as the Review of Reviews Christmas annual, and a year later, he followed this up with More Ghost Stories, again as a Christmas Annual.

By this time, Stead was almost completely engrossed with matters supernatural, and in 1893, he founded the spiritualism quarterly, Borderland, with himself as editor. Sadly, massive work commitments forced him to abandon this venture four years later, but he continued publishing on the supernatural, becoming something of a spiritualist guru in the process. Stead's most famous work on spiritualism is Letters from Julia, a record of apparent "conversations" between himself and departed American journalist, Julia Amis, achieved by means of "automatic" writing. Stead later republished the work as After Death and even set up "Julia's Bureau", a seance circle that met each morning. Another notable work attributed to Stead is The blue island (1922), an alleged account of his after death experiences as "written" by him through the hand of a medium during several seances. Stead's reputation as a clairvoyant seems to have grown after his death, due to his two fictional stories, "How the Mail Steamer went Down in Mid Atlantic" (1886) and "From the Old World to the New" (1892), both of which suggest the Titanic disaster in which, years later, he would ultimately perish. Inevitably, Stead's absorption in spiritualism fatally eroded his political reputation, so much so that, by the time of his death, he was derided in many circles as a fanatic and a crank.

© Owen Mulpetre 2012


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..

Please support this website

As a subscription-free resource, this website depends on donations to help with the cost of development, hosting and historical research. Please consider making a contribution to help me preserve this valuable resource for future researchers. All donations are very gratefully received.

Owen Mulpetre, BA (Hons) MPhil

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