EAB News 2012-04-15: Stead Tribute

Esperantists and journalists pay tributes to W.T. Stead

A little before 10 a.m. on Sunday 15th April - exactly 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic - a dozen or so esperantists met in the sunshine in front of Temple tube station on the Victoria Embankment in London. Most had arrived there on foot, as the Circle and District lines were closed that day for engineering work, so the fine weather was much appreciated. After a brief exploratory foray into some adjacent gardens, someone spotted their target on the far side of the road: a monument commemorating the Victorian campaigning journalist and enthusiastic advocate of Esperanto, William Thomas Stead.

Others had already arrived there: officials and members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists; a number of Mr. Stead’s descendants, including Richard, his great-grandson; and the Venerable David Meara, Archdeacon of London and Rector of a nearby Fleet Street church dedicated to St. Bride.

On the stroke of 10 a.m. a spokesperson for the journalists began his eulogy, recounting Stead's fearless exposures of contemporary dishonesty, vice and hypocrisy, his numerous achievements as author, editor and publisher, and the high esteem in which he was held by like-minded reformers, not only in Britain, but also in the United States. It was while crossing the Atlantic to meet some of these that his life was tragically ended, along with those of many others, when Titanic struck an iceberg and sank. This tribute ended with a warm welcome to members of the Stead family, and the placing of a commemorative wreath at the foot of the memorial.

After some brief prayers led by the Archdeacon, David Thornell was invited to lay a second wreath. This had been provided jointly by Esperanto Association of Britain and the London Esperanto Club, both of which owe much to W.T. Stead for his involvement in their foundation and his subsequent support for the Esperanto movement in Britain. After introducing himself and thanking CIoJ for the invitation to share in their tribute, David said this:

"On behalf of The London Esperanto Club, I am here to salute the memory of its co-founder, W.T. Stead. Stead was a man of many talents and multiple legacies. In addition to his work as a crusading journalist, his lasting influence has been felt by linguists for more than a century - thanks to the Esperanto Club he set up by The Strand in 1903. May our modest wreath mark but one of his historic contributions to people from all walks of life; and may his memory endure for centuries more."

Our wreath was then laid alongside the other, ending the first part of the joint tribute. After photographs had been taken of various groups of participants, a significant number of these walked to St. Bride's for the second part. In this splendid church, with which Journalists have a particularly close and long-standing connection, Holy Communion was celebrated, further glowing tributes paid to William Stead, and hymns sung and prayers said for all who perished in the Titanic disaster.

All in all, this had been a very moving and memorable occasion, and one where the Esperanto-speaking community acted not, as it so often does, in isolation, but rather in co-operation with a prominent and respected Institute of professional journalists. This outcome owes much to the persuasiveness and skilful diplomacy of EAB's publicity co-ordinator Brian Barker, to whom on behalf of the esperantist contingent I therefore offer warmest thanks.

Terry Page


The tribute wreath from Esperanto-Asocio de Britio and the London Esperanto Club.


[Return to EAB news bulletins list]
[EAB Homepage]