1912 was the year W T Stead drowned in the Titanic disaster, and the year George Bernard Shaw wrote Pygmalion, the main character being young Eliza from Lisson Grove. Shaw had worked for Stead on the Pall Mall Gazette in the era of its most scandalous headline: 'The £5 virgin'. Stead's special notoriety arose from a sensational stunt in which he claimed he had personally witnessed the purchase of a young girl caled 'Lily' and her sale to a brothel for the sum of £5. His audacious claims were to pass into journalistic legend and within a month the age of consent for girls was raised from thirteen to sixteen. The true story of the £5 virgin is what this book is about . Just about everything in Stead's supposedly irrefutable story of the purchase of the girl of thirteen was either fabricated or inaccurate. Gavin Weightman's meticulous detective work makes for a shocking indictment of Stead's journalistic methods. But it allows the real 'Lily' to emerge. She was a young girl called Eliza from Lisson Grove. Gavin Weightman's previous books include the best-selling Frozen Water Trade.