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Titanic Victim Reported on After-Death Experiences

Posted on 03 February 2020, 9:35

William T. Stead is not listed among the 334 victims of the Titanic whose bodies were recovered as they floated in their lifejackets.  Indications are that he was struck on the head, possibly by a falling ship’s funnel, and sent to the bottom of the ocean.  However, the evidence strongly suggests that Stead did “survive,” though not in the flesh, as he began communicating through a number of mediums in the weeks and months following his physical death.

Stead, (below) a renowned British journalist, editor, author, social reformer and pacifist, was on his way to New York City to give a speech on world peace at Carnegie Hall when he became a victim of the Titanic.  On May 6, 1912, some three weeks after the tragedy,  Stead communicated with his daughter, Estelle Stead, at a sitting in Wimbledon with direct-voice medium Etta Wriedt.  Retired British naval officer turned psychical researcher Vice-Admiral William Usborne Moore was present and reported that Stead talked with his daughter for at least 40 minutes.  Moore described it as the most painful but most realistic and convincing conversation he had heard during his investigation of mediumship. (In the direct-voice, the voice comes through independent of the medium.)


A week or so later, General Sir Alfred E. Turner hosted a private sitting with Mrs. Wriedt at his home, reporting that Stead spoke in a voice that was unmistakably his while telling of the events just before the giant ship sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic. (More about Stead and his early contacts from the Other Side can be found in my 2012 book, Transcending the Titanic, published by White Crow Books.)

At the time of the disaster, Estelle Stead was on a tour with her own Shakespearean company.  One of the members of the touring group was a young man named Pardoe Woodman, who apparently had psychic abilities.  According to Estelle, a few days before the ship went down, Woodman told her over tea that there was to be a great disaster at sea and that an elderly man very close to her would be among the victims.  Some five years later, in 1917, Woodman developed as an automatic writing medium and began receiving messages from William Stead, who told of his initial experiences on the Other Side.  Estelle Stead noted that Woodman wrote with his eyes closed and that the writing was very much like her father’s.  Moreover, the writing would stop at times and go back to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” a habit of her father’s which she was sure Woodman knew nothing about.

Stead also had the ability to do automatic writing when in the physical body.  In 1909, three years before his death, he authored Letters from Julia, a series of messages coming through his hand from Julia T. Ames, an American newspaperwoman, intended for her friend, Ellen, during 1892-1893.  “Automatic writing, I may explain for those unfamiliar with the term, is writing that is written by the hand of a person which is not under control of his conscious mind,” Stead explained in the 1909 book. “The hand apparently writes of itself, the person to whom the hand belongs having no knowledge of what it is about to write. It is a very familiar and simple form of mediumship.”

Considering the research suggesting that some of the information recorded by automatic writing mediums is “colored” by the medium’s subconscious, Stead wrote that he could not believe that any part of his unconscious self would deliberately practice a hoax upon his conscious self about the most serious of all subjects, and keep it up year after year with the most sincerity and consistency.  “The simple explanation that my friend who has passed over can use my hand as her own seems much more natural and probable.”

The messages coming through Woodman’s hand, as Estelle Stead sat with him to provide a sympathetic link with her deceased father, were set forth in a 1922 book, The Blue Island, just recently republished by White Crow Books. 

In his initial communication through Woodman’s hand, Stead recalled the “indescribably pathetic” scene he witnessed after the ship went down, as hundreds of souls hovered over their floating bodies, some of them not comprehending their new state and concerned with having lost their valuables.  After what seemed like a few minutes, they all seemed to rise vertically into the air at a terrific speed. “I cannot tell how long our journey lasted, nor how fast from the Earth we were when we arrived, but it was a gloriously beautiful arrival,” he communicated to his daughter through Woodman. “It was like walking from your own English winter gloom into the radiance of an Indian sky. There, all was brightness and beauty.”

Nevertheless, Stead continued, the presence or absence of contentment among the new arrivals was based on the quality of the individual’s earth life.  He referred to what is today called a “life review,” in which the individual judges himself based on the character formed, the opportunities taken and lost, the motive of his or her actions, the help given, and the person’s overall mental outlook. “To sum all these up,” Stead explained to his daughter, “it is the quality of mind control over body versus body over mind.  Mind matters and body matters; it is in your keeping entirely and is in whatever state you have made it by your life.  On your arrival here the degree of your happiness will be determined automatically by the demands of your mind.” 

Stead added that everything seemed to have a blue tinge to it, as if it were a blue island. He later referred to it as a “blue atmosphere” and explained that it was a temporary rest spot where adjustments were made before moving on to the “Real World.”  He stressed that it does not resemble the earth life; rather, the earth life is a reflection of it. 

The initial objective, he further explained, “is to get rid of the unhappiness at parting from earth ties, and therefore, for the time being the individual is allowed to indulge in most of earth’s pleasures.”  He said that that there are libraries, music halls, and athletic arenas, that one can ride on horseback, and swim in the sea.  The clothing, he said, was practically the same as people were accustomed to on earth.  Thought, he dictated, is the force that drives everything and everything has to be mental before it becomes physical.

The mysteries of life, Stead communicated, are not revealed to the person upon arrival.  “I want you first to realise that by the change of death you do not become part of the Godhead immediately,” he cautioned his daughter. “The mysteries of life are not revealed to you as a kind of welcoming gift on your arrival here. You must not think that I, or any, have full knowledge on all subjects, profound and trivial, the moment we come to spirit life.”  Understanding, he said, comes slowly and it is difficult to communicate because the conditions are so different than those experienced in the material life.  “I am only a little way on my journey, but just far enough to grasp the intense beauty of life, and in life.” 

“We are only a very little way from Earth, and consequently up to this time we have not thrown off Earth ideas,” he went on.  “We have gained some new ones, but have as yet discarded few or none.  The process of discarding is a gradual one …We get to the state of not desiring a smoke, not because we can’t have it, or think it not right, but because the desire for it is not there.  As with a smoke, so with food, so with many a dozen things; we are just as satisfied without them.”

Stead eventually moved on to a higher (in vibration) realm, but he was able to tell very little of it because it was even more beyond human language. “It is a land of freedom – a land of happiness and smiles,” he communicated, adding that they can be in close touch with loved ones still in the physical environment and can try to influence them.  “In saying we can and do influence people on Earth, I do not propose to go into the precise process of how we work,” he explained. “It is near enough to say that you know how you influence each other on Earth; here the result is the same, although the process is quite different…”  However, he stressed, while spirit friends can attempt to guide a person, they cannot act for him. “He sets his own destiny in motion and he alone can alter it.”

Stead concluded by emphasizing that the physical world is a training school.  “…you are there to learn the truth about your own character, and how to control and develop it, to make full use of all Earth’s beauties and pleasures,” he ended, “but you must be master and not allow them to master you.”

Next blog post: Feb. 17

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.


I would like to hear more from people on the Titanic as I am fascinated to learn about their exceriences

Joyce, Mon 10 Feb, 19:05

Excellent,  Mike!

We receive so many of the same descriptions at our spirit sessions.

Unfortunately, those whose lives were not well-lived…suffer and/or are very confused.

One case was a girl who still felt trapped underwater. We were able to convince her with the help of our spirit guides that she could release herself from her sad situation.

Keep up the great work!

Yvonne Limoges, Wed 5 Feb, 00:52

Michael, Keith, and Brett,

Many thanks for the comments and the references or links.  They are much appreciated.  I was unable to identify the “Life Eternal” book mentioned by Keith, but I did come upon the book,“Has W. T. Stead Returned” by James Coates. It has an abundance of testimony by various people who attended those early seances, especially those of Etta Wriedt, as well as many quotes of the discarnate Stead.  I’ll plan to summarize this book in a future blog.

Michael Tymn, Tue 4 Feb, 21:32

Great to read more info about Stead. I have only read “The Blue Island” and was surprised, at how readable the material was: A lot of Victorian afterlife books can be mighty florid.

Also, I found many similarities between Stead’s ‘island’ experiences and a few of Chico Xavier’s ‘psychographed’ Spiritist works, as well as Swedenborg’s descriptions of the afterlife. To be fair, Emmanuel Swedenborg’s tomes definitely give ‘florid’ a run for its money, but when reading mystically conveyed revelation, perhaps it comes with the territory. Of course, there are differences, but to those of us long interested in what happens “Over Yonder”, those are the very details that expand perception of heaven’s possibility.

Thanks again and very much for your keen blog and White Crow books. It’s almost like a correspondence course in all things afterlife.

Pax et lux,

Brett Butler

Brett, Mon 3 Feb, 19:13

Thanks for this piece, Mike, very interesting. For those who might care to click on Youtube I too have made a 21 minute documentary about Stead entitled ‘Sensational Stead and the Spirit World’. He was a fascinatiing man and in my video I refer to his book ‘The Blue Island’. But he did not just communicate from the other side through Pardoe Woodman. Later, in 1933, he channeled a book entitled ‘Life Eternal’ to offer a deeper understanding ‘of the other side. I think it was channeled through the medium Hester Dowden, or it may have been her pal Geraldine Cummins. It is on my reading list, yet to be purchased as it is quite expensive. If you care to write a piece on it, Mike, that would be great.

Keith P in England, Mon 3 Feb, 11:03

Well done Mike, an excellent report about William Stead. It is interesting to note that mediums on Earth carry on with their gift from the so-called next world. In 1983 I met the “dead” Helen Duncan at a materialisation experiment in Leicester. I am not being gullible here as this Helen Duncan had already been checked out by her daughter before I went to Leicester. Ref. The Cleaver Report on my website:

Michael Roll, Mon 3 Feb, 10:26

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Facing the Final Choice by Michael Grosso – The editor of my first book suggested I call it The Final Choice (1985). I thought the title was overdramatic and a bit grandiose. I did in part write the book in response to what seemed like the growing threat of nuclear war. Read here
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