Belfast Telegraph

Angry letter from Titanic survivor up for auction: ‘The way we’ve been treated... we didn’t seem to have done the right thing in being saved at all!!!! Isn’t it disgraceful?’

By Linda Stewart

An irate letter written by an aristocratic Titanic survivor who became the target of public outrage following the disaster will go under the hammer later this month.

Lady Duff-Gordon and her husband Sir Cosmo controversially fled to safety on Titanic's Lifeboat No 1, which was occupied by only a dozen people despite a capacity of 40.

Following the sinking, which claimed more than 1,500 lives, the wealthy couple became the focus of tabloid headlines alleging that Cosmo had bribed the crew of what became known as 'The Money Boat' to row faster, rather than returning to rescue others.

The only passengers to participate in the inquiry's hearings, the Duff-Gordons were deemed not to have deterred the crew from any attempt at rescue, but it was concluded that the lifeboat might have been able to rescue others if it had turned back.

The letter written by fashion designer Lady Duff Gordon, known as Lucile, conveys her distress at the way the couple were treated after the sinking of the Belfast-built liner. Dated May 27, the three-page letter with a personal letterhead was written to a friend.

"How kind of you to send me a cable of sympathy from New York on our safety. According to the way we've been treated by England on our return we didn't seem to have done the right thing in being saved at all!!!! Isn't it disgraceful."

The angry letter was composed at her Knightsbridge residence during the British Wreck Commissioner's inquiry into the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

Lady Duff-Gordon would later say that her husband was broken-hearted over the negative coverage for the rest of his life.

Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction, which is selling the letter, said: "Correspondence from prominent passengers with such exceptional Titanic content is rarely encountered-especially written so soon after the tragedy."

The letter goes under the hammer on January 22 as part of the Remarkable Rarities auction in Boston, which includes a postcard sent by Albert Einstein from Jerusalem that includes a rare self-portrait sketch and a letter by Malcolm X about the temptations of the jazz music scene.

Lady Duff-Gordon quotes

"I had been in bed for about an hour and the lights were all out, when I was awakened by a funny, rumbling noise. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. It seemed as if some giant hand had been playing bowls, rolling the great balls along. Then the boat stopped."

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