Shadow of the Titanic
The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived
Date of publication: November 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
The 2012 centenary has resulted in a wealth of Titanic-themed books but what marks this one out is that it explores the legacy of the disaster both for the survivors and society as a whole. People make up history and in telling the stories of individuals touched by the disaster Andrew Wilson has crafted a fascinating book drawing on the Archive at the National Maritime Museum and families and friends of survivors themselves.
The Titanic was a microcosm of Edwardian society with representatives from different classes from mistresses to maids, actresses to artisans and their reactions and ways of coping run the gamut from self-delusion to self awareness. Reputations were made or lost that fateful night, the tragedy of the sinking led to guilt and romance, heroism and suicide, some were strengthened by the experience and some destroyed. Ten survivors of the Titanic later committed suicide their lives forever marked by that night. Others felt they were protected by fate and a particularly touching story is that of Marion Woolcott who made charms from the coat she wore that night to give to her sons when they went to fight in World War II.
From the ship owner who came to regret that he had not, as society so clearly expected, gone down with his ship, to the silent screen actress who starred in a film of herself as a survivor wearing the same dress she wore that night Wilson tells the stories of many of those who lived to tell the tale.