Living with the memory of the night of April 15, 1912 was difficult for most of the survivors of the Titanic, but forgetting it was impossible. This is a collection of histories of some of the prominent players in the epic drama in the North Atlantic: John Jacob Astor's 18-year old widow, J. Bruce Ismay, Chairman of the White Star Line, Edith Russell, who became obsessed with the tragedy, and the Duff Gordons who found themselves embroiled in a vicious scandal after they escaped the liner in a lifeboat that contained only 12 people. Fascinating stories of endurance, triumph, and tragedy. — Alden Graves
IN the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, the icy waters of the North Atlantic reverberated with the desperate screams of more than 1,500 men, women, and children—passengers of the once majestic liner Titanic. Then, as the ship sank to the ocean floor and the passengers slowly died from hypothermia, an even more awful silence settled over the sea. The sights and sounds of that night would haunt each of the vessel’s 705 survivors for the rest of their days.
Although we think we know the story of Titanic—the famously luxurious and supposedly unsinkable ship that struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Britain to America—very little has been written about what happened to the survivors after the tragedy. How did they cope in the aftermath of this horrific event? How did they come to remember that night, a disaster that has been likened to the destruction of a small town?
Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished letters, memoirs, and diaries as well as interviews with survivors’ family members, award-winning journalist and author Andrew Wilson reveals how some used their experience to propel themselves on to fame, while others were so racked with guilt they spent the rest of their lives under the Titanic’s shadow. Some reputations were destroyed, and some survivors were so psychologically damaged that they took their own lives in the years that followed.
Andrew Wilson brings to life the colorful voices of many of those who lived to tell the tale, from famous survivors like Madeleine Astor (who became a bride, a widow, an heiress, and a mother all within a year), Lady Duff Gordon, and White Star Line chairman J. Bruce Ismay, to lesser known second- and third-class passengers such as the Navratil brothers—who were traveling under assumed names because they were being abducted by their father.
Today, one hundred years after that fateful voyage, Shadow of the Titanic adds an important new dimension to our understanding of this enduringly fascinating story.