Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Titanic: More than a macabre coincidence...?

Titanic first class suite bedroom 'b58'. Photograph © National Museums Northern Ireland. Collection Harland & Wolff, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
Titanic at fitting-out wharf with three out of four funnels fitted. Photograph © National Museums Northern Ireland. Collection Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
Jack Thayer, Titanic survivor

In among the fairly extensive Titanic premonition literature, The Sinking of A Modern Liner, written in 1886, by well-known journalist and spiritualist W. T. Stead, stands out.

In his story, originally published in the Pall Mall Gazette, a liner leaves Liverpool, picks up passengers and mail bags in Queenstown and on its journey to New York is involved in a collision. There are too few lifeboats, total panic ensues and the captain brandishes a revolver to keep the steerage passengers from storming the deck with the lifeboats.

What makes this story remarkable is the fact that by a macabre coincidence, Stead himself went down with the Titanic. Apparently, Mr Stead remained a good newsman to the end and filed his story by relaying to a medium all the relevant details, including those of his own demise.

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