In my last post “Reading in the library of MS Queen Victoria,” I ended by saying that this library had a large amount of books on the Titanic. The MS Queen Victoria is a large and comfortable ship and since we had eight days at sea I had plenty of time for reading many books in cozy places on the ship. Below is a picture of Queen Victoria with her grandchildren Prince Arthur and Princess Margaret of Connaught taken in April 1886. This frame was hanging in one of the halls on the ship.
When we were on the Queen Mary 2 in November 2008 I remember that during one of the shows, a singer sang the theme song from the 1997 movie Titanic. She laughed and said that we were in the Caribbean and not close to an iceberg. While on the Queen Victoria, I heard this song again – it could have been the same singer. She also said that we were going to Hawaii and not close to an iceberg. The difference though was that we were in high sea and the sea was rough. They even had to cancel the acrobats’ act because the ship was rolling too much.
Back in our stateroom that night, reading about the Titanic as the Queen Victoria was moving a bit in the heavy sea, up and down, hearing the creaking noises (we were the first cabin in the bow) it made me pause once in a while. I did not take the pictures of all the books I read while on ship but last week I went to our local library and checked out half dozen books on the subject.
The book in the center above is mine. I had bought “Titanic – A Survivor’s Story” by Colonel Archibald Gracie years ago but had not read it. I am almost half-way through it now. I had also purchased a marked down CD called “Titanic” Music as Heard on the Fateful Voyage." Here it is below.
Below is a picture of the members of the band who kept on playing till the end (all perished.)
At the gift shop on the Queen Victoria there were postcards for sale. I bought a little packet containing a collection of 32 postcards of original photographs, illustrations and British new reports on the Titanic.
Here is a close up of some of them. Top left is "Commander Edward J. Smith “Be British” the Last Words of the Titanic’s Captain." Next is “The Personal Side of the Titanic Disaster.” Below "left Diagram 1. The First Contact with the Berg" next to "The Luxury of the Titanic."
While reading all these books I noticed that most of the pictures were the same. I found out that they were taken by an Irish Jesuit priest who sailed with the ship from Southampton to Queenstown, Ireland (now called Cobh.) I found his picture in one of the books. Below is Father Browne.
Father Frank Browne was quite an interesting person. His parents had passed away when he was very young but he had an uncle, Uncle Robert, who was the Bishop of Cloyne. Before entering the Order, his uncle gave him a gift: a Grand Tour of Europe and a camera to record his trip. Later he also gave him a first class ticket for a two-day cruise on the Maiden Voyage of the Titanic from Southampton to Queenstown. On the ship Father Bowne met and became friends with a wealthy American family who offered to pay for the remainder of his journey to New York. But when he reached Queenstown there was a note from his clerical superior ordering him to get back to his theological school. Father Browne had taken many pictures before, during, and after disembarking from the Titanic. His and 11-year-old Jack Odell, a schoolboy who also took pictures, are the only photos of the Titanic at sea that survived the shipwreck. Below are some of those pictures. (The pictures below are from the book I read on Father Browne (The Last Days of the Titanic by E.E. O’Donnell.)
An interesting note is that Father Browne had made up a “Titanic Album” with a selected number of his photos. This album had been kept in a safe place. But 42,000 photos taken by Father Browne in his lifetime and including more photos on the Titanic and his time in the war, laid buried and undisturbed in the Jesuit archives in Dublin. They were found in 1985 the same year the Titanic was found in the bottom of the sea. Below are more photos of Father Browne’s journey on the Titanic taken from different books and articles.
At my library last week I checked an interesting old book. It is called “The Wreck of the Titan, or Futility” written in 1898 (written 14 years before the sinking of the Titanic) by Morgan Robertson. Even though this novel was written before these large ships were even designed there are some strange coincidences between the story in this book and what happened 14 years later. Like the Titanic the fictional ocean liner Titan sank in April in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. There were not enough lifeboats for the passengers just like on the Titanic (just enough to satisfy the law.) The Titan was 800 ft long and the Titanic 882, the Titan speed was 25 knots and the Titanic 24. The Titanic, considered unsinkable, sank losing more than half of its 2200 passengers. The Titan, considered indestructible, sank losing more than half of its 2500 passengers. Below are the first pages of the book.
Click on collage then click on each picture to see better
Before World War 1 the public had great confidence in the UK and US achievements. They really believed that this ship was unsinkable which is why many of the passengers did not want to board the lifeboats. The Titanic was the largest, grandest and most luxurious ship of her day. It was 882 feet 9 inches long by 92 feet in breadth and 100 feet tall (11 story building.) Her gross tonnage was 46,328 tons. But then I checked and the Queen Mary 2 is 1132 ft long, by 131 ft in breadth and her tonnage is 150,000 tons so our modern cruise ships are much larger.
Titanic painted my Ken Marschall, American, born in 1950Many say that one hundred years ago today, the 15th of April 1912 was the end of the age of innocence. When the rich lived in opulence and the poor knew “their places.”
The history of the Titanic is well known but it was interesting to find some new facts. For example there were 13 honeymooning couples on board. I also found out that the reason so many in 3rd class (steerage) perished was because of the very strong class system of the time. The people then believed in rigid class structure – they thought that they would be taken care of, they trusted the higher classes to save them. They also had faith in the “Ship of Dreams.”
An Elegant Soirée by Albert Chevallier Tayler, English 1862-1925
Many books had beautiful and haunting illustrations. The bottom right hand picture below is of survivors in a lifeboat. I found out that most survivors could not shake the memory of the sinking and quite a few took their lives in the years after the sinking.
My husband seeing me so involved in reading about the Titanic bought me some hundred anniversary items, such as a cup and plate from 2nd class, a special commemorative plate and postcards.
As I was taking pictures of the book that I had been reading there was a show playing on television on the Titanic and the newspaper had an article about the connection of a local family. A hundred years later, the terrible destiny of the Titanic is still in the news. On the left on the collage below is the front page of the New York Time right after the tragedy.
The phenomenal tragedy of the Titanic occurred on April 15, 1912 when 1,523 people went to their death. The myths and fascination about this iconic ship are still haunting our imagination. There is an exhibition in Atlanta to commemorate the centennial of the doomed Titanic. It is called “Titanic – the Artifacts Exhibition.” At first we did not want to go but finally did see it last week. I’ll talk about it in my next post. I’ll end with a picture of the sea I took on the Queen Victoria while reading about the Titanic.