LATEST NEWS: Muckraker: the scandalous life and times of W. T. Stead has recently been shortlisted for the prestigious HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize. The result will be declared at a prize dinner hosted by the Biographers' Club in November. (www.biographersclub.co.uk).
The book has also been included in the famous 'MPs' Summer Reading List' put together by senior Conservative MP Keith Simpson. (http://www.totalpolitics.com/life/326137/keith-simpsonand39s-recess-reading-guide.thtml)
Welcome to the website of W. Sydney Robinson, freelance writer, journalist and book reviewer.
Will has recently completed a ground-breaking biography of the Victorian investigative journalist W. T. Stead entitled Muckraker. It was published by the Robson Press in May. (Please listen to interview with Iain Dale on LBC radio here:http://alturl.com/vj6th ).
As Tristram Hunt writes in the Foreword, 'Muckraker is a warts-and-all account of the life of arguably the most important journalist of all time.' The book portrays Stead as a sex-obsessed Puritan, who alleviated his own unwanted desires by railing against the sins of others.
Stead's most famous stunt was to 'purchase' Eliza Armstrong, a 13-year-old child of the slums, in order to unveil the evil of juvenile prostitution which existed in Victorian London. After getting one of his agents to 'strike a deal' with the child's mother, Stead took Eliza to a West End brothel where it was clear that she would have been raped. Having got his story, Stead made his excuses and took her away again.
When Stead wrote up these events in his newspaper under the lurid headline 'The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon' Fleet Street went into meltdown. A rival publication called it 'the vilest parcel of obscenity ever issued from the public press', but Stead was supported by such eminently respectable figures as Cardinal Henry Manning and the founders of the NSPCC. Within a few weeks Parliament was forced to raise the age of consent to 16 in order to protect other would-be victims of paedophilia.
That was not the end of the story, however. In the course of a sensational trial at the Old Bailey it was discovered that Stead had been misled by one of his accomplices - Eliza had not been sold into prostitution after all. Her mother believed that she was going to become a servant and had received several letters explaining that this was the case. Humiliated, Stead was sent to prison for three months for the child's abduction.
Stead did not allow this tragic farce dent his career or his enthusiasm. For the remainder of his life he amazed friend and foe alike by appearing for work on the anniversary of his sentencing dressed in his prison garb.
Making sensational headlines until the end, Stead was last seen helping woman and children into lifeboats as the Titanic went down.
Muckraker charts the incredible rise and fall of this truly unique figure. The reader travels with Stead as he emerges from provincial obscurity to become a powerful journalist and a friend of such exalted people as King Edward VII, Cecil Rhodes and two Tsars of Russia.
'Given the current headlines, W. Sydney Robinson's admirably thoughtful and economical biography could hardly be better timed. Closely researched and briskly written, it does an excellent job of explaining one of the most extraordinary individuals in journalistic history'. --Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times
'At a time when the Leveson Inquiry provides many shocks, this timely, well-written biography of the brilliant, flawed Victorian journalist - who made up quotes and twisted the truth in order to right wrongs - vividly demonstrates that breaking rules can lead to fame but also to downfall'. --Bel Mooney, Daily Mail
'This is, quite simply, a marvellous book, the best I have read this year so far. Every politician and journalist should slip a copy of this slim, brilliantly written volume by a new young author into their holiday luggage this summer. Lord Justice Leveson should not leave home without it'. --Lord Lexden, The House Magazine
'a timely study of Britain's first investigative journalist'-- Tobias Grey, The Wall Street Journal
'A lively and laconic biography'-- John Pemble, London Review of Books
'gives a singular editor his rightful place in the history of journalism' --Western Mail
To purchase the book, please enquire in any good bookshop or click on the link below: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Muckraker-Stead-Britains-Investigative-Journalist/dp/1849542945
Do not hesitate to get in touch with the author by emailing: email@example.com