As Sydney Robinson makes clear in his lively and laconic biography, Stead was a pioneer of what Arnold called the ‘New Journalism’. Stead was neither agnostic nor a gentleman. He was a Tyneside Congregationalist who relished his reputation as a ‘barbarian of the North’. He’d left school at 14 and completed his education and learned his trade on the staff of the Northern Echo in Darlington. He didn’t say ‘Pell Mell’, he didn’t set foot inside a theatre until he was past fifty, and Thomas Cook’s Temperance Club was the only club he ever joined. When it came to protocol he either hadn’t a clue or couldn’t care less. He turned up at the Hôtel Matignon to meet the French prime minister wearing a cheap tweed suit and a grubby sealskin cap, which he forgot to take off. Emily Crawford, the journalist who’d arranged the appointment, said he looked like a dog thief. During an audience with the tsar at Gatchina, he took the initiative and brought the conversation to an end, leaving the British ambassador aghast because he’d ‘dismissed the tsar’. He referred in print to the Prince of Wales as ‘the fat little bald man in red’ who was a threat to the monarchy.
Robson Press | Hardback
320 pp. |ISBN: