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100 Years Later: The Demise of the Titanic

As many of you know, Sunday marked the 100-year anniversary of the Titanic’s fateful plunge into the Atlantic Ocean in what is still considered to be the most famous ship disaster in history. The story is well documented – around 2,200 passengers and crew members set sail on April 12, 1912 on the RMS Titanic’s maiden voyage. On April 14, the Titanic struck a massive iceberg that eventually sank the vessel early the next morning– sending some 1,500 people to their deaths. Nobody saw it coming. Well, perhaps one person forecasted the ship’s demise.

Morgan Robertson, a famous 19th Century novelist, wrote the 1898 novella The Wreck of the Titan, which is a fictionalized story surrounding the sinking of a massive vessel in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. Below is the book’s cover illustration, looking eerily like the final moments of the Titanic.

While the more intimate moments involving the characters in The Wreck of the Titan aren’t related to the Titanic, the main event of the novella almost paints a perfect picture of what was to come nearly 15 years later. Some of the similarities between the Titan and the Titanic include:

-       The ship’s maiden voyage and descent into the Atlantic in April

-       The Titan was approximately 800 feet long; the Titanic approximately 883 feet long

-       “Unsinkable” was used to describe both the Titan and the Titanic

-       The limited amount of lifeboats, as the fictional Titan used “as few as the law allowed”; the Titanic used a miniscule 16 life boats

-       More than half of each vessel’s passengers perished

The only significant difference between the two stories is the Titan actually capsized before succumbing to the iceberg’s blow, while the Titanic went down bow first. Other than that the similarities are ominous. Even the names are spookily similar. While it would be hard to take a piece of fiction seriously when considering the Titanic’s treacherous voyage, there were noticeable warning signs pointing to the destruction of a mammoth ship in Robertson’s The Wreck of the Titan. Fortunately, the love story between DiCaprio and Winslet was left out.