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RMS Titanic - Myths and Mysteries, Facts and Fiction

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RMS Titanic sets out on its fateful voyage

On the night of 14/15 April, 1912, the RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic, after a collision with an iceberg. Over 1,500 passengers and crew died, with only 710 survivors. This ship's sinking has become one of the most famous events of the 20th Century, with numerous books and films made about the disaster. In the 100 years since the sinking, many myths have arisen about the Titanic, some of which are true, others not. All figures are believed to be as accurate as possible, however completely accurate records were not kept and the exact numbers of survivors and victims are disputed between historians.

No vessel like the Titanic had been seen before


In fact the Titanic was the second ship of her class, after the Olympic. Titanic was only larger in regards to her gross tonnage, 46,328 tons rather than 45,323. The two ships were so identical that the Titanic never had its own plans, the ones for the Olympic were re-used.

The Titanic was longer than the height of the world's tallest building


The Titanic was 882ft 9in long, while the world's tallest building was the 700ft tall Metropolitan Life Tower in New York. However, the construction of tall buildings and ships is completely different.

The Titanic was fine when she left Belfast


In fact, she was magnificent. Scientific research into the 'Big Piece' of the Titanic raised from the seabed show that, despite rumours, she was strongly built and able to withstand almost anything, with the sole exception of side-swiping injuries from rocks or icebergs. It is possible that more of the rivets could have been made stronger, using steel rather than iron, but that would not have made much difference.

The Titanic's home port was Liverpool

Technically Liverpool was the Titanic's Port of Registry, although she never actually went there. A Port of Registry is not necessarily a port which a ship sails from or visits.

Titanic was built and launched in Belfast, but the only port she was berthed in was Southampton, mooring outside both Cherbourg and Queenstown. Although Liverpool had been White Star Lines' principal port, from 1907 the White Star Line sailed from Southampton, although it still had its headquarters in Liverpool. Southampton was closer to London; the docks were owned by the London South Western Railway which made travel to and from London easier. Southampton had a deep-water channel and several drydocks, including what was at the time world's largest1 drydock. However, over a hundred White Star employees from Liverpool were on board the Titanic.

The sinking was all Bruce Ismay's fault


Joseph Bruce Ismay was chairman and managing director of the White Star Line since the death of his father in 1899. He had ordered the construction of the Titanic and her two sisterships. However, early in his life, he made the mistake of inadvertently making an enemy of powerful American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst2, a man who knew how to hold a grudge. There are unsupported claims that he requested that Captain Smith maintain full speed, however no evidence for this has survived. Ismay, when the ship was sinking, spent 90 minutes getting women and children into lifeboats before being urged into collapsible boat C, the penultimate lifeboat launched, when there were no women or children in the vicinity. If he had not done so, there would simply have been another empty seat on a lifeboat and one more victim, yet Hearst was determined to blame Ismay for the disaster in every newspaper he owned.

The Titanic was going too fast


There are reports that the Titanic was speeding across the Atlantic in an attempt to make a record crossing. This is untrue. The crew were well aware that Titanic was too large a ship to compete with Cunard's smaller and faster Mauretania and Lusitania in terms of speed, which routinely travelled at 26 knots. Similarly from February 1912 there was a coal strike. Although this had ended four days before Titanic set sail, new shipments of coal had yet to reach Southampton, where 17,000 men had lost their jobs because of the strike. To provide enough coal for the voyage, other ships' sailings were cancelled, including the RMS Majestic, RMS Adriatic, RMS Oceanic and SS Philedelphia, whose passengers were transferred to the Titanic. Similarly, several of the ship's boilers were left unlit to save coal. For the Titanic to cross the Atlantic, the preciously-small amounts of coal needed to be conserved.

Second Officer Lightoller stated at the enquiry that 'for the first 12 months [in service] the ship never attains her full speed' to avoid straining engines before they had settled. He believed the Titanic could comfortably travel in excess of 24 knots and was, at the time, doing about 21½.

Overall, though, the Titanic would have been able to manoeuvre out of the iceberg's way had she been travelling slower. Lightoller stated that throughout the 14th there had been warnings of icebergs, but none lay on their course, so were largely ignored. However, there had been a message from the SS Mesaba regarding icebergs directly on the Titanic's course, a message which was never passed to the bridge. Lightoller believed that, had Captain Smith received the message, the Titanic would have slowed down, and, according to Lightoller, More than likely, in fact almost certainly, he would have stopped the ship entirely and waited for daylight to feel his way through.

The conclusion of the British enquiry into the disaster was that the Titanic was lost due to collision with an iceberg, brought about by the excessive speed at which the ship was being navigated.

The Titanic did not have enough lifeboats

Unarguably true

At the time of her construction pressure was on ship-builders to make ships less likely to sink and provide water-tight bulkheads, rather than build ships likely to capsize equipped with plenty of lifeboats. The designers had built the lifeboat davits, the devices which lowered the lifeboats to the water, capable of lowering up to four lifeboats on each pair of davits, however only one lifeboat per pair of davits was on board Titanic. She did carry four more than the Board of Trade required (20 rather than 16), and the lifeboats themselves were capable of carrying more passengers (up to 65) when full: 14 boats could carry 65 people, two extra could carry 40 and four collapsible boats could carry up to 47 each, a total of 1,178 lifeboat places for the 2,208 on board. Only 710 made it to the lifeboats.

Most of the passengers were in steerage


There were no steerage passengers on board Titanic. 'Steerage' is a term used to describe passengers held within the ship's hold in a large, shared dormitory accommodation on board ships, all within one room, with no privacy, few toilets, usually no food provided, and often without drinking water3. All passengers on Titanic had 4- or 6-man cabins, even in Third Class, with good meals served. White Star prided itself on having eliminated steerage and having single men and women's accommodation at opposite ends of the ship, single women at the stern, single men at the bow, with family accommodation in the middle. Despite this, the term 'steerage' has stuck.

Most people in Third Class on the Titanic were Irish


This is an image perpetrated by films about the Titanic. People from 31 different countries were on board, however more people in Third Class were British, followed by Irish4, who only just outnumbered Third Class Swedish passengers. Of the 113 Irish Third Class passengers, only 47 survived. Just 18 of the 118 British Third Class passengers survived, and only 23 of the 104 Swedish passengers in Third Class survived.

The majority of people in First Class were American. Across all classes, of the four predominant passenger nationalities on board, 58% of the 306 Americans, 32% of the 327 British, 35% of the 120 Irish and 24% of the 113 Swedish survived.

Titanic was a luxurious liner


In First Class, a Parlour suite cost £870, now the equivalent of £63,110, while a cabin would cost £30, now £2,210. First Class areas included the Verandah and Palm Court, A La Carte Restaurant, Café Parisien, dining saloon and galley. Additionally there was a First Class Smoking Room, staircases and lifts, open promenade on A deck, lounge, and a gymnasium equipped with rowing machines, electric camel, electric horse, electric back-rubbing machine, electric vibration machine and bicycles, First Class barber, squash court and Turkish baths5. She was the first ship designed to have a heated swimming pool6 six feet deep. Most cabins, though not all, had baths7.

Second Class cabins cost £12, now about £867. Cabins came with own washbasins, but shared baths and toilets. Second Class passengers had their own enclosed promenade, smoke room, library, a dining saloon capable of seating up to 2,400 people, barber and a lift.

Third Class cabins cost between £3-8, now £221-568. Facilities included general rooms, smoking room, an outside promenade on the aft well deck, a galley and a dining saloon capable of holding 475, with three sittings expected. Cabins were shared between four or six people, with curtains for privacy. Washbasins were provided in each cabin, but Third Class only had two baths between them all, one for males, one for females. This, though, reflected contemporary attitudes; among the poorest people at the time there was a perception that bathing was unhealthy and caused pneumonia. Attitudes in Third Class that being engulfed in water would lead to death cannot, in hindsight, be argued with.

The Third Class passengers were locked up


It was an American immigration policy that Third Class passengers were to be separated from the rest of the passengers for health reasons. It appears that during the sinking some, though not all, of these gated barriers remained in place in the early stages of the ship's sinking, although investigation of the wreck by submarine has shown that all these barriers were open at the time the Titanic sank.

Further problems the Third Class passengers experienced during the sinking included the unfamiliarity with where the lifeboats were, none of which were located on the Third Class promenade on the aft well deck. Third Class passengers also did not know how to get to the outside of the ship in the ship's complex maze of identical corridors8 and that instructions from the ship's personnel were only given in English, which were not always understood.

The crew manned the lifeboats, and so survived

Although 60% of the deck crew survived, manning and commanding the lifeboats, only 15% of the below-deck crew survived. The rest manned their posts. No engineers, electricians or fitters survived, keeping power working throughout the ship as long as possible to help with the evacuation.

Everyone called the ship 'Unsinkable'


It makes a good story that the engineer who designed RMS Titanic claimed that 'God himself couldn't sink this ship' shortly before the ship sank, but this is not true. In fact, there's no record of anyone from the White Star Line making the claim that RMS Titanic was 'unsinkable'. The truth is that, in 1911, Shipbuilder magazine published an article describing the construction of the Olympic-class vessels. This stated that when the watertight doors were closed, the ships would be 'practically unsinkable'. This quote has since been taken out of context and attributed to White Star and Thomas Andrews.

In fact, the first ship that was advertised as being 'practically unsinkable owing to the Watertight Bulkhead Doors being hydraulically controlled' in the Shipbuilder magazine was the RMS Mauretania in 1908.

The Titanic disaster resulted in all Harvard students learning to swim


On Harry Elkins Widener's death, his mother donated his book collection to the university to form the Widener Library, also known as the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library, Harvard. It is true that Harvard used to require all students to pass a swimming test before they could graduate, however this was because of Harvard's Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps programme9, not related to the Titanic and not a condition of the Widener donation.

RMS Titanic was the first ship to transmit an SOS distress call


Titanic was the fourth ship to use this new signal, which replaced CQD10 on 1 July, 1908. The first ship to transmit an SOS distress call was the SS Slavoniaon 10 June, 1909. The second was the SS Arapahoe on 14 August, 1909, when the ship lost its screw near Diamond Shoals. The SS Arapahoe received an SOS from the SS Iroquois in 1911, the first ship to both transmit and receive a distress call.

Curiously, the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi11 had originally been invited to be on the Titanic, but his son Giulio was ill. Instead Beatrice and Degna Marconi, his wife and daughter, watched the Titanic depart from the top of Luttrell's Tower12 on Southampton Water.

The sinking of the Titanic is the greatest peacetime maritime disaster ever


Sadly not, it is the third-greatest loss of life at sea. Over 1,500 died when the Titanic sank. On 27 April, 1865, the Mississippi steamboat SS Sultana sank with the loss of 1,800 people near Memphis, Tennessee. On 20 December, 1987, the overcrowded MV Dona Paz collided with an oil tanker, the MT Vector, off Mindoro, overturned and sank amongst a raging oil fire, killing 4,500 passengers and crew. Only 26 from both ships survived.

The greatest loss of life at sea occurred on 30 January, 1945, when the German MV Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk by the Soviet submarine S-13 with the loss of over 9,000 souls.

The Captain of the Carpathia was knighted for his actions

True, rescuing the survivors played a part in his knighthood.

The Carpathia was 58 miles away, heading in the opposite direction when the distress call was heard. Captain Rostron immediately took charge. Although the Carpathia had a top speed of 14 knots and would not arrive at the scene for several hours, Captain Rostron:

  • Increased the speed of his ship to 17.5 knots by turning off the heating and non-essential electricity to increase speed, making their arrival time in three hours rather than the expected five.
  • Posted extra lookouts to watch for icebergs.
  • Ordered the ship's doctors to convert dining rooms, etc, into fully-prepared medical stations.
  • Stocked all areas with blankets, clothes, food and hot drinks.
  • Prepared the side of his ship with electric lights, ladders, chair slings and nets to help the survivors.
  • His and all officers' cabins were given to the survivors.
  • Posted stewards to keep the Carpathia's 740 passengers informed of what was going on, but separate to avoid confusion.
  • Arranged for all survivor names to be recorded and forwarded by radio.
  • Fired rockets every 15 minutes to reassure the Titanic survivors that help was on the way.
  • Prepared all lifeboats for immediate launch should survivors be seen in the water.

After rescuing all aboard the lifeboats, Carpathia returned to New York. Captain Rostron was thanked by President Taft, awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the Thanks of Congress and American Cross of Honor. His service record during the Great War was exemplary. He was knighted, becoming a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1926. He died in Southampton in 1940.

Captain Smith was a hero


Captain Edward John Smith was originally from Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, but had lived in Southampton for some years at the time he took command of the Titanic. He was appointed captain, not because of his ability to captain a ship, but for his ability to socialise with First Class passengers. He held ultimate responsibility for his ship, the number of lookouts and the speed it was going, though not for the number of lifeboats on board. He was also responsible for loading the lifeboats, most of which left without being filled. Had the lifeboats been better loaded, more passengers would have survived.

The exact details of his death are unknown, only that he did indeed go down with the ship. Initial newspaper reports stated that he had a fight with his officers as the ship sank and then shot himself on the bridge. There are legends that he dashed around saving children and his last words to his crew were 'Be British', neither of which are verifiable. When compared with the captain of the Costa Concordia, there is no denying that Captain Smith met his end with brave dignity.

Curiously, in the immediate aftermath, Captain Smith was considered anything but a hero in his hometown. Although he was from Hanley, the statue to him stands in Beacon Park, Lichfield. This is because it was paid for by public subscription to a fund dedicated to erect a statue to him, but Stoke-On-Trent's council refused to allow a statue of the disgraced captain to be erected within the city limits. Lichfield was the nearest place to his hometown prepared to accept the monument.

The final song played was 'Nearer, My God, to Thee'

Possibly true

Bandleader Wallace Hartley's father Albion Hartley was the choirmaster at Bethel Independent Methodist Chapel, and 'Nearer, My God, to Thee' was his favourite hymn13. 'Nearer, My God, to Thee' was sung by the doomed crew and passengers of the SS Valencia as it sank off Canada in 1906. The press may have simply recycled this story for the Titanic, but it was known at the time among ocean liner musicians that this was an appropriate hymn for when a ship sank. A friend of Hartley who also worked for White Star through the Black Talent Agency14 claims to have discussed this hymn with Hartley, and that Hartley had said that if he was on a sinking ship he would play that hymn, especially as it had family connections. Other survivors state that the last song they heard was 'Songe d'Automne', also known as 'Autumn'. As none of the band survived, the truth will never be known.

The Titanic sank in perfect weather

The weather was calm, but not perfect

It is known that the Titanic sank on a moonless night when the sea was 'as calm as a millpond'. Had the sea been more turbulent, with foam crashing at the base of the iceberg, or the moon been shining, the iceberg would have been easier to spot. It is known that April 1912 had the fourth most icebergs recorded in shipping lanes in the 20th Century. These icebergs are brought into the north Atlantic by the icy Labrador Current.

In 1912, all ships were required to measure temperature and weather and record them in logbooks. One recent theory on the sinking has examined the logbooks for the North Atlantic for the time and area of the Titanic's sinking, and discovered that she sank where the icy Labrador Current met the warm air of the Gulf Stream. In these conditions of hot and cold air mixing, visual distortion called 'refraction' takes place. This distortion, also known as a 'mirage', could conceivably have changed the lookout's perception, giving the impression of water ahead, thus preventing them from seeing the iceberg until it was too late.

The Carpathia was not the closest ship to the disaster


The closest ship was the SS Californian which was positioned to the north-east, although exactly how far is still fiercely contested. The Titanic did not sink where her SOS message claimed she was, and was found 10 miles away from where she was expected, further away from the Californian. Reports of how far apart they were range from five to 20 miles. When the Titanic sank, the Californian's only radio operator was asleep15. Distress rockets were seen from the Californian, but ship flares' use in distress situations had not been established and these were interpreted as 'company signals', such as would be fired whenever two ships of the same fleet crossed paths. Both ships appeared to be visible to each other and both tried signalling using Morse lamps, however, neither ship was able to interpret any message sent by the other. The crew of the Titanic reported seeing a ship's lights, which they believed to be the Californian about five miles away, but when the lifeboats tried to row towards the lights, none of them made it. It has been suggested that the Californian's apparent proximity may have been an illusion caused by refraction and atmospheric conditions.

The crew of the Titanic were all fired the instant that the ship sank


This meant that the widows of the crew had to rely on public donations or get remarried quickly in order to survive. Public appeals to raise money for the widows and orphans were set up, especially by the Salvation Army, and eventually White Star contributed after public pressure.

Much of the fund was collected in Southampton, the town hardest hit. Ensign Palmer of the Salvation Army wrote:

On Saturday the 20th, I spent three and a half hours [in Southampton] collecting for the Relief Fund, and never want to live again through such an experience. Thousands wept with us. We collected £30 10s, £20 in copper, and many hundred of halfpennies were given by the poorest of the poor.

On the other hand, although there were claims for $16 million-worth of insured items by wealthy passengers, White Star paid out only $600,000.

The names of the crew who survived were not published in Southampton until three days after the list of surviving First Class passengers were announced in London. Even then, the names were published only by surname, so although it was announced that, for example, 'Smith' survived, families had no way of knowing whether it was their 'Smith' or not.

The Titanic's loss caused a mutiny


On 24 April, nine days after the Titanic disaster, 285 of sister ship Olympic's crew, members of the Seafarer's Union, refused to sail from Southampton, effectively going on strike. 35 extra collapsible lifeboats had been quickly placed on board following the Titanic disaster; however this was reduced to 24. A rumour passed round that these collapsible boats were being removed as they were not sea-worthy. These 285 men refused to work unless the collapsible boats were replaced by conventional lifeboats. Non-Union replacements for these 285 were transported from Sheffield, many of whom were coal-miners, however this caused the remaining 600 or more crew to strike also, which Captain Haddock of the Olympic labelled mutiny. 53 men were arrested and sent to court for mutiny, the case going to trial in Portsmouth. An investigation declared the collapsible lifeboats seaworthy, however the judge decided it would be inappropriate to fine or imprison the mutineers. The Olympic eventually sailed on 15 May.

The loss of the Titanic had been predicted


In Britain, the man whose death on board the Titanic was reported most was author, journalist and spiritualist William Thomas Stead, who was rumoured to be about to win the 1912 Nobel Peace Prize. On 22 March, 1886, he published a fictional article 'How the Mail Steamer Went Down in Mid-Atlantic, by a Survivor' about a ship that sank in the Atlantic which did not have enough lifeboats. The last line of which was:

This is exactly what might take place and will take place if the liners are sent to sea short of boats.

In 1892 he wrote a story, From the Old World to the New about a fictional ship, the Majestic, rescuing the survivors of a ship that hit an iceberg in the Atlantic.

Most famous is the novella 'Futility' (after 1912 published as 'Futility: or the Wreck of the Titan') by American author Morgan Robertson, written in 1898. It features a ship driven by three propellers, 800ft long, called the Titan, which everyone considers to be unsinkable. It could carry up to 3,000 passengers. It struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic at midnight and many people drowned as the ship only carried 24 lifeboats. The Titanic was driven by three propellers, 882ft 9in long, could carry almost 2,500 passengers and equipped with only 20 lifeboats. It struck an iceberg at 11:40pm in the North Atlantic.

The Titanic was carrying a cursed Egyptian mummy


Journalist and author William T Stead is known to have entertained his fellow passengers with a ghost story on the night of 12 April, a story he had already sold for publication, about a cursed Egyptian mummy, The Priestess of Amun Ra16. The gist of the story was that all who touched the mummy's coffin were supposed to have died shortly afterwards and, after several deaths in the British Museum, the mummy had been sold to an American collector and was travelling on board the Titanic.

The truth is that the coffin nicknamed the 'Priestess of Amun Ra' is exhibit EA 22542, on display in Room 62 of the British Museum. The Titanic's manifest mentions no Egyptian artefacts in the cargo hold.

The Titanic disaster was a conspiracy


Like most famous world events, several conspiracy theories have been suggested over the years, including suggestions that the ship was sunk on the orders of the Pope.

The most common is that the Titanic was really her sister ship Olympic in disguise, a ship which had already suffered a collision with HMS Hawke. The theory is that while the Olympic was in Belfast being repaired when Titanic was being constructed, the White Star Line had the ship names swapped over and arranged for the Olympic, now disguised as the Titanic, to sink in order to claim insurance money. The problem is that there were numerous differences between the two ships, porthole and vent locations, sheltered promenades etc, so that to change their identity would require a vast workforce working in secret on two vessels towering over the city of Belfast and hoping that no-one noticed. Not only this but the Titanic was under-insured by over $2.5 million, so in fact the White Star Line lost a fortune in the sinking, as well as many of their most loyal and talented employees and customers, and their international reputation. Why they would do this on purpose has not been adequately explained.

The Titanic disaster improved maritime safety


In April 1913 13 nations agreed to SOLAS, the International Convention for the Safety Of Life At Sea, which is now ratified by 160 countries worldwide. This created the International Ice Patrol, and ships are required to maintain a 24-hour radio watch. Provisions for lifeboats for all passengers and the importance of lifeboat drills were also introduced, and the use of flares in emergencies clarified.

The Titanic disaster could never happen today


Although the invention of sonar and radar and the creation of laws regarding the provision of lifeboats, etc, have increased maritime safety, there is no way of eliminating all risk. Perhaps demonstrating this, shortly before the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, the MS Costa Concordia disaster in January 2012 claimed 34 lives.

If the Titanic had not sank, she would still be afloat today

Probably not

Many of her contemporaries sank soon after:

  • HMHS17  Britannia  –  Titanic's sister ship – torpedoed/mined 1916
  • SS Californian  – the closest ship to Titanic  – torpedoed 1915
  • RMS Carpathia  – the ship that rescued the survivors – torpedoed 1918
  • RMS Lusitania  – rival Cunard liner – torpedoed 1915
  • SS Mesabi  – the ship that issued an ice warning to the Titanic that was not passed to the bridge – torpedoed 1918
  • La Provence  – French liner, first vessel to receive Titanic's distress call – torpedoed 1916

Although both RMS Olympic18 and RMS Mauretania survived the Great War, they were scrapped soon after. During the Great War Titanic would certainly have been commandeered for war work, and become a tempting target for any U-boat. If the Titanic hadn't sunk in 1912 it may well have sunk within six years, but without having introduced the international safety laws that her loss created. Only one White Star vessel, the tender Nomadic, survives today. If Titanic had not been sunk in the war, she probably would have been scrapped at the end of her career.

Survival Rates: Women, Children and First Class first?

It is true that 75% of female passengers survived, compared to 20% of male passengers. It really was 'women and children first', although more men from First Class survived than children from Third Class. 49 of the 50 children who died were from Third Class. The youngest, Sidney Leslie Goodwin, was only 19 months old.

One child survivor, six year old Douglas Spedden, slept through the whole sinking. Sadly, when aged nine he was killed in a car accident, one of the first car fatalities in Maine.

'Survival' itself is a very loose term. Two year old Maria Nackid died of meningitis on 30 July, 1912, 75 days after being rescued. Colonel Archibald Gracie survived but suffered from hypothermia and died a few months later. Eight survivors later committed suicide, including Frederick Fleet, the lookout who spotted the iceberg. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Southampton until 1994, when a gravestone was placed by the Titanic Historical Society.

  • 38% of First Class passengers died:
    • 119 men died, 54 lived
    • 11 women & children died, 145 lived.
  • 59% of Second Class died:
    • 142 men died, 15 lived
    • 24 women & children died, 104 lived
  • 75% of Third Class died:
    • 417 men died, 69 lived
    • 119 women & children died, 105 lived
  • 77% of crew died:
    • 682 men died19, 194 lived
    • 3 women died, 20 lived

Two Third Class families in particular were hard hit. John and Annie Sage had nine children travelling with them, Fred and Augusta Goodwin had six. None of either family survived.

Three of the nine dogs on board survived.

The Titanic In Film & Television

Many of the myths that have arisen about the Titanic have been created or perpetuated by film and television. Other films are likely to have been inspired by the disaster, such as The Poseidon Adventure twice, however the Titanic story has itself been frequently dramatised:

1912Saved from the Titanic Released 29 days after the ship sank. On board the Titanic was Dorothy Gibson, a 22 year old silent screen star who had been in the first lifeboat lowered. On arriving in New York she wrote and starred in this one-reeler film wearing the dress and coat she was in when she boarded the lifeboat. Sadly the last copy was accidentally destroyed in 1914.
1912In Nacht und EisGerman silent film version, translated In Night and Ice.
1929AtlanticOriginally called Titanic, but lawsuits forced the name to be changed. The first sound film about the sinking of the Titanic.
1937History is Made At NightAbout a ship called SS Princess Irene to avoid lawsuits, this film starred Jean Arthur and Charles Boyer.
1943Titanic Nazi propaganda with the British and Americans shown as inferior and corrupt. Hitler, having invaded Europe, was not deterred by the possibility of being sued.
1953Titanic American film about a separating couple arguing about their children's custody, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Wagner, Richard Basehart and Clifton Webb. The working title was Nearer My God To Thee.
1958A Night To Remember Widely regarded as the best and most accurate Titanic film, based on the meticulously-researched book by Walter Lord. James Cameron was inspired by this classic. The lucky pig seen in the film is the actual lucky pig that was on the Titanic.
1964The Unsinkable Molly BrownMusical starring Debbie Reynolds. Margaret 'Molly' Brown was a passenger on the Titanic. This musical is about her life story, especially her time spent on board the ship.
1979SOS Titanic American film obsessed with class divisions.
1980Raise The Titanic Based on Clive Cussler's best-selling novel, it flopped. Lew Grade later remarked that it would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic.
1996TitanicTwo-part television drama starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
1997TitanicExpensive film starring Kate Winslett, directed by James Cameron. It was re-released in 3D in 2012. The film lasts 34 minutes longer than the time taken for the ship to sink.
1998La femme du chambre du TitanicThe chambermaid on the Titanic is a French film about seduction – no scene takes place on the famous ship.
1999The Legend of the TitanicAnimated Italian film about mice.
2003Ghosts Of The AbyssJames Cameron 3D Imax documentary.
2010Titanic IIPlot: A new ship with the same name sails 100 years later and sinks. Just like the film itself, actually.
2012TitanicMuch anticipated ITV drama by Julian Fellowes who wrote Downton Abbey that was disappointing and quickly nicknamed 'Drownton Abbey'.

The impact of these films can be measured in the fact that standing at the front of a ship and holding your arms out wide was unknown in 1996, however since 1997 it has become accepted and expected behaviour for those boarding ships and ferries for the first time.

It is not only film and television that have entered into the public consciousness surrounding the Titanic. In 1912 author Thomas Hardy wrote a poem entitled 'The Convergence of the Twain (Lines on the loss of the Titanic', which includes the words:

And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace and hue
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

In 1997 a Broadway musical at the Lunt-Fontaine Theatre won five Tony Awards, with the set tilting during the production.

The Titanic has become synonymous with doomed ships. Its name is now used to signify any doomed vessel, including spacecraft, inspiring computer games such as Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic and the Doctor Who Christmas special Voyage of the Damned and appearing in films such as Time Bandits and Ghostbusters II.

1The world's largest is now in Belfast.2The inspiration for the character of Kane in classic film Citizen Kane, a film he tried to ban.3Rapes and assault were reportedly common in these conditions.4At the time, the Irish passengers were considered to be members of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Irish independence was still a decade in the future.5Turkish baths are an evolution of Roman baths, using both steam and water.6Ironically, one of the last parts of the ship's interior to be flooded.7There were crew on board whose job it was just to run baths for First Class passengers.8Second Officer Lightoller said it had taken him two weeks to learn his way around the Titanic. The Third Class passengers had two hours from when the ship struck the iceberg.9Between 1916 and 1969 enrolment in the ROTC was compulsory for Harvard graduates. The Vietnam War protests changed involvement in ROTC to voluntary.10The White Star RMS Republic was the first ship to broadcast 'CQD' when rammed by the Italian liner Florida in thick fog. Seven ships responded, including the Baltic saving all on board.11Guglielmo Marconi sent the first over-water radio signal from Alum Bay on the Isle of Wight in 1897, initially to a boat off-shore, later to Bournemouth and Poole.12A Grade II* Listed building. Marconi rented both the tower and neighbouring Eaglehurst between 1911 and 1916, using the top of the tower for radio transmission experiments.13There are in fact three different versions of this hymn, with the one known in Britain different to the one known in America. It was the British version that was Albion Hartley's favourite and would have been known to the band, whereas the 1997 film Titanic shows them playing the American tune.14The musicians were supplied by the Black Talent Agency for White Star. After the disaster, Black Talent Agency sent bills for the cost of the uniforms that the band members died wearing to the musicians' families.15At the time only four vessels had two radio operators; RMS Lusitania, RMS Mauretania, RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic.16Cursed mummies were fashionable after Bram Stoker wrote The Jewel of Seven Stars in 1903.17His Majesty's Hospital Ship.18On 20 September, 1911, the Olympic collided with HMS Hawke in Spithead, between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth harbour. HMS Hawke was torpedoed in 1914. Olympic did in fact ram and sink a submarine, U-103, on 12 May, 1918, the only passenger liner to sink an enemy warship. In 1919 a dent in the Olympic was discovered below her waterline which had been caused by an unexploded torpedo.19Among the 'men' were 14, 15 and 16 year old Bell Boys, a 16 year old page boy from the restaurant and two 17 year old life attendants.

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