To commemorate 107 years since the sinking of the Titanic, and to help you separate the myths from the reality of the extraordinary events which took place on that cold April night in 1912, I have taken 107 well-known “facts“ about the sinking, and in each case explained how each of these is in reality either true or false.
Each conclusion is backed up where possible with eye-witness evidence and court testimony from survivors of the tragedy, so you have independent verification of what really went on during the incredible night the Titanic sank.
Starting on Monday 11th February, I will blog one Titanic-related “fact” per day, together with the evidence explaining why that so-called fact is in reality true or false. The results will surprise you.
I hope you have fun in guessing from each day’s headline which is really a true fact and which is in fact a myth. The answer in each case will be revealed in the text of the blog each day.
Meanwhile, in advance of the first fact on Monday, the following is the introduction to my original book ‘101 Things You Thought You knew About The Titanic…But Didn’t!’, written to commemorate 101 years since the catastrophe:
Jack Thayer was only seventeen years old when he survived the sinking of the Titanic by swimming to an overturned lifeboat. His father died in the disaster and his rude awakening into adulthood no doubt coloured his perspective; but in his privately published 1940 account of the sinking, this is how Jack recalled what life was like before the Titanic sank:
‘There was peace and the world had an even tenor to its way. Nothing was revealed in the morning the trend of which was not known the night before. It seems to me that the disaster about to occur was the event that not only made the world rub its eyes and awake but woke it with a start keeping it moving at a rapidly accelerating pace ever since with less and less peace, satisfaction and happiness. To my mind the world of today awoke April 15th, 1912.’
The sinking of the Titanic on April 15th, 1912 was as shocking to the world as the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001. Titanic triggered the first global media storm, with The New York Times devoting its first twelve pages to the story: the newest, largest and most luxurious ship in the world, the unsinkable Titanic, packed with many of the biggest celebrities of the day, had sunk on her maiden voyage, with catastrophic loss of life.
As soon as her survivors disembarked in New York from the rescue ship Carpathia and told their stories, the world began a game of Chinese Whispers about what really happened the night the Titanic sank. Each survivor only saw a small piece of the complete picture of what happened and the press in 1912 attempted to fill in the gaps as sensationally as possible. As a result, wild rumours developed, many of which still persist today.
The Titanic disaster was the subject of contemporary public inquiries on both sides of the Atlantic and is consequently one of the best-documented disasters in history. These Hearings corrected many of the rumours circulating at the time, but they also propagated new ones of their own. As Titanic passes into folklore, old myths persist and new ones continue to be created to suit the worldview of new generations—and cinema audiences. The result is that what most people know about Titanic today is a mixture of fact and fiction.
As Lord Byron said in his comic-epic poem, Don Juan, in 1823:
’T is strange,—but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction; if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange! How differently the world would men behold!
This was never truer than in the case of Titanic. The difficulty however—as Byron points out—is how to tell it. I hope that the accessible format of this book will be a way in, for some, to discovering the truth about the Titanic. Where possible, I have tried to get at this through eye witness testimony, which is fully quoted and referenced.
As Walter Lord observed in both his classic 1957 account of the sinking, A Night To Remember and his 1986 sequel, The Night Lives On:
‘It is a rash man indeed who would set himself up as final arbiter on all that happened the incredible night the Titanic went down.’
This book is not intended as the final word on any of the 101 points it covers, but it is intended to make you think differently about the Titanic.
If you’d like to read the original book of ‘101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic…But Didn’t!’, or any of my other books on Titanic, please visit my Author Page on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/tim-maltin/e/B005LNHYEQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1