11 Titanic Books That Will Make Your Jaw Drop

It’s April 15, 2020.  On this day 108 years ago, Titanic sank at 2:20AM and took 1,496 lives with her.  Many people were on the ship to start a new life in America or just returning home.  The world was changed upon learning about this maritime disaster.  In the memory of those who have died, here are eleven books from historians, as well as Titanic survivors, that are really interesting recounts of the disaster.


image via amazon

1. a night to remember: the sinking of the titanic

Not too many people heard the sound of Titanic hitting the iceberg, but it was very recognizable to the lookouts and crew onboard.  In the next two hours and forty minutes, the maiden voyage of Titanic became one of the worst maritime disasters in history.  Walter Lord bases this book off of sixty-three survivor accounts for a moment-by-moment account of one of the bleakest nights in the twentieth century.


image via amazon

2. Titanic: a survivor’s story

Colonel Archibald Gracie was one of the last to leave the sinking ship in the early hours of April 15.  In his account, he describes his personal experiences and remarkable escape from death in the freezing North-Atlantic water, painting a vivid picture on what life was like aboard the vessel in its final hours.  Colonel Gracie tracked down other survivors for their stories of the disaster and attended court hearings to obtain official record for his book, all the while succumbing to diabetes.  He finished his book shortly before his death.


image via amazon

3. titanic survivor: the memoirs of violet jessop

Violet Jessop spent her entire career at sea, traveling on more than 200 voyages. She was a stewardess for first-class passengers on Titanic when it sank on its maiden voyage.  She was even on Titanic’s two sister ships, Olympic and Britannic, when they too experienced disasters that she had survived: Olympic hit a ship and Britannic sank after hitting a mine.  She admits that she didn’t like big ships and was secretly afraid of them.  In this account, she says that on the night of the sinking she saw to the needs of the passengers first before she could even find a coat for herself, she was given a ‘forgotten baby’ in a lifeboat, and she watched the ship go down “as if by looking I could keep her afloat.”  In this memoir, we learn about what life was like for those who worked on the ships.



image via amazon

4. the night lives on: the untold stories and secrets behind the sinking of the “unsinkable” ship-titanic

Walter Lord’s book was a landmark work that recounted the horrible events on the night of Titanic’s sinking.  His book takes the exploration further and reveals information about the ship that hadn’t emerged until decades later.  Such questions Lord addresses in his book are, ‘Was the ship really christened before setting sail on its maiden voyage?’, ‘What song did the band play as water spilled over the bow?’, ‘How did the ship’s wireless operators fail so badly, and why did the nearby Californian, just ten miles away when Titanic struck the iceberg, not come to the rescue?’.  Lord tries to answer these questions in his investigation.


image via amazon

5. the truth about the titanic

With the ship in her last minutes above water, Colonel Archibald Gracie was one of the last few people to escape the sinking Titanic by clinging to an overturned collapsible lifeboat before being rescued.  In another of his books, Colonel Gracie writes about his experience on the night of the sinking as well as the testimony he gave at the inquiry that followed.


image via amazon

6. the loss of the s.s. titanic-it’s story and its lessons

Lawrence Beesley published this book just nine weeks after the Titanic had sank.  His account opens with his story of arriving ashore in New York and soon after walking through the doors of Messrs.  He writes to record the events of the sinking and to ‘set the record straight.’  He captures both the view of the lifeboat he was in and the view from the deck of the ship itself in his spellbinding tale of that fateful night.



image via amazon

7. on a sea of glass: the life and loss of the rms titanic

In this book, the authors bring the tragedy of the sinking of Titanic to life, telling the story of the ship’s design, construction, and maiden voyage, in an attempt to understand how a brand new ship could sink.  The authors also bring to light stories of individuals who sailed on her and their rarely seen accounts of the sinking.  They all tell a dramatic story of those who were lost and those who were saved, and what happened in the world after word of Titanic’s sinking went around.  The book is made special by using rare survivor accounts from the eye witnesses of that night.


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8. discovery of the titanic

Robert Ballare discovered Titanic in September of 1985 in a Franco-American expedition.  This book is a pictorial record of his expedition, filled with high quality color and black-and-white images.  He compares the modern-day pictures, at the time of discovery, to what she looked like before her sinking.  He discusses other attempts made to discover Titanic, goes into an account of the sinking, and finally describes the events that led up to the ship’s discovery.


image via amazon

9. return to titanic

In this book, Robert Ballard co-authors with Michael Sweeney to review Titanic’s history and the events leading up to her demise.  Ballard describes his dream of turning the ship into an underwater museum, being easily explored from above by computer.  In a specific writing detail says, “[the] mast from which the lookouts issued warnings had collapsed into the well deck [on the wreck]”.  The writing is sure to excite any Titanic-philes who are interested in the ship.



image via amazon

10. titanic: an illustrated history

This book is written by Robert Ballard and is illustrated by Ken Marschall.  It features dozens of meticulously accurate and full-color paintings and includes a fold-out illustration of the entirety of Titanic.  Ballard offers his wealth of information about how a ship regarded as ‘practically unsinkable’ sank on April 15, 1912.


image via amazon

11. ken marschall’s art of the titanic

Ken Marschall has a large collection of Titanic paintings that are both stunning and incredibly accurate renditions of the former ocean liner.  This book even includes the image of the September 1985 TIME magazine cover when the wreck of Titanic was discovered.


featured image via Ken Marschall

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I Bet You Don’t Know These 19 Readable Titanic Facts!

It is Titanic Week.  Today, April 10, 2020, marks the 108th anniversary of the maiden voyage and sinking of the RMS Titanic, the largest and most luxurious ship of its time.  Titanic left Southampton on April 10, 1912 at 12PM and would be stopping at Cherbourg by 4PM and Queenstown (now Cobh) at 8:10PM to pick up more passengers before heading out to the open ocean on April 11. 1,496 people died from the sinking of the Titanic, while only 727 survived.  Her sinking changed the way maritime organizations and ships operated. She was also the source for many books!

Since the tragedy, Titanic has been a huge focus for historians as they try to work out not only how she sank, but everything that happened before and during her maiden voyage.  With that being said, here are nineteen Titanic facts that you can read about that you may not even know! I will also be linking five Titanic-related books that you can pick up and read!



image via wikimedia commons

1. titanic had to scavenge for coal to use

At the time of Titanic’s maiden voyage in 1912, there was a coal strike going on.  The strike ended April 6, just four days before she was supposed to set sail and because of this, there wouldn’t be enough time to deliver enough coal to the dock for Titanic.  As a result, coal for Titanic had to be scavenged from other company ships (which all belonged to White Star Line).

image via imgur

2. titanic was originally designed to have 64 lifeboats

Titanic’s chief designer, Alexander Carlisle, originally planned on Titanic having sixty-four lifeboats, but the International Mercantile Marine Company at the time decided that it would be more important for passengers to have more walking space on deck.  Also, since the number of lifeboats needed was based on a ship’s weight, the design of sixty-four lifeboats was knocked down to forty, then thirty-two, and finally sixteen, which was the “right” amount based off Titanic’s weight. An additional four smaller lifeboats were added for a grand total of twenty.

image via daily mail

3. titanic almost collided with a ship when she left southampton

Titanic was about to leave port at Southampton for her maiden voyage when a ship named the USMS New York slowly inched closer to the liner!  What caused this ship to almost collide with Titanic was her giant propellers underwater; the sheer size of the moving propellers caused the nearby USMS New York to break free of her mooring lines and get sucked toward Titanic!  Luckily, Titanic avoided it, but her departure time was delayed by an hour.


image via quora

4. titanic had a smoldering coal fire inside her for most of her voyage

Titanic had six boiler rooms at the very bottom deck.  A coal fire, which starts from spontaneous combustion of coal, lightly burned inside boiler room 5 before she even left port and was finally put out well into her maiden voyage.

image via kyle hudak and ken marschall on encyclopedia titanica

5. titanic sailed while leaning to her port side (the left)

The coal fire during the voyage forced people working in boiler room 5 to empty or move all the coal from the right side.  This caused Titanic to lean to port about 2.5º.


image via andrew king on twitter

6. titanic’s fourth funnel was a “dummy” funnel

The last funnel on Titanic was a dummy funnel in that it did not release the black smoke that the first three did. Instead, the last funnel was used to ventilate the engine rooms and kitchens aboard Titanic.  So, it was cosmetic and functional.  Cool!


image via wikipedia

7. titanic’s bulkheads were pretty low for a ship her size

What bulkheads do on any ship is create divided spaces to contain flood water.  On Titanic, some only rose nine feet from sea level, or about one floor of a house. So, Mr. Andrews in Cameron’s Titanic pointed out a huge problem while the ship was sinking: “The water will spill over the tops of the bulkheads, at E Deck, going from one to the next, back and back, there’s no stopping it.”.  And nothing did.


image via pinterest

8. a strange atmospheric phenomenon could have been why titanic hit the iceberg

On the night Titanic hit the iceberg, a cold air mirage could have been the reason why no one saw the iceberg until it was really close.  A cold air mirage bends the horizon line upwards.  This meant that the iceberg was totally hidden in a fake horizon line that was above the real one, so no one spotted the iceberg until the ship was dangerously close to it!


image via j. cleary on pinterest

9. titanic had more time to turn than we thought

The lookouts spotted “an absence of stars” about ten minutes before Titanic hit the iceberg, but since nothing physical was made out, this was ignored.  The lookouts then physically spotted the iceberg 55 seconds before hitting it, not what was thought to be 37.  The ship turned to the left of the iceberg but, unfortunately, it just didn’t have enough time and hit it.


image via Quora

10. the iceberg only caused 12-13 sq. feet of damage, less than the area of two sidewalk squares

The iceberg didn’t cause one giant gash in the side of Titanic.  It’s believed that the iceberg instead popped open some rivets holding Titanic’s hull plates together.  This caused six small, but major, damaged areas along six watertight compartments where water was quickly entering.


gif via samuel halpern on titanicology

11. titanic was taking on 400 tons of water every minute after striking the iceberg

After Titanic hit the iceberg, she began taking on a lot of water.  Like, a lot.  After twenty minutes, she had almost two million gallons of water on-board.  To put this into perspective, that amount could fill four olympic-sized pools!!!


image via Titanic:H&G on gigazine

12. titanic had a gangway door opened during her sinking

There is evidence to suggest that while Titanic was sinking, one of her commanding officers had a gangway door opened on D Deck to make it easier to board passengers onto lifeboats!  This door was used to board first class passengers (the super rich) on the ship, but during her sinking, the open door was forgotten about and it only allowed more water inside the ship!  #OOPS


image via titanic:H&G on encyclopedia titanica

13. titanic listed pretty badly while she sank

While Titanic was nearing her end, the ship leaned around 11º to her left side.  Why did this happen? It’s believed that when Scotland Road flooded (a very long corridor for poor passengers onboard) the water forced the ship to lean to the left.


image via encyclopedia britannica

14. james cameron’s titanic improperly portrays bruce ismay

Bruce Ismay, the owner of White Star Line, was shown in the movie to cowardly jump into a lifeboat and escape the sinking Titanic.  In real life, Ismay wasn’t a sleaze ball liked he appeared in the movie. Rather, he was actually very active in persuading and assisting passengers to get on the lifeboats as he knew the ship would sink.  He only survived because First Officer William Murdoch ordered him into a boat. And no, Ismay never told Captain Smith to make Titanic go faster so they could make newspaper headlines like he did in the movie.

image via wikipedia

15. william murdoch didn’t actually commit suicide by shooting himself in the head

The movie also inaccurately portrays Officer Murdoch shooting himself in the head after he fatally shot Jack’s friend, Tommy, in his stomach.  There are no survivor accounts of him shooting anyone, nor himself. Like others, he probably froze to death in the freezing North-Atlantic water.


image via wikipedia

16. the captain of titanic did not ignore any ice warnings

A popular myth is that the captain of Titanic, Edward J. Smith, ignored all incoming warnings from other ships about a huge ice field ahead of Titanic.  Contrary to the myth, Captain Smith actually listened to them by having Titanic sail further south than her original route in an attempt to get ahead of the ice field.  The captain wasn’t trying to break any world speed records.


image via Titanic:h&g on our planet

17. cameron’s titanic inaccurately portrays the way titanic sank

In the movie, we see at the end of the sinking the stern of Titanic towering high out of the water, with dramatic music and a shot of a horrible, death-filled spectacle with people screaming and jumping to their deaths in the icy water below.  As engaging as that may have been on a theater or t.v. screen, the stern did not rise that high out of the water. In the movie, the stern was 45º out of the water, but in real life, it was half that at a max of 23º.


18. the way the ship split in cameron’s titanic was incorrect

After that scene of the stern with the dramatic shot and music, we see the ship split in half.  It’s even more dramatic than the previous scene. However, this too isn’t accurate. That giant split we see form in the ship actually happened forward of the third funnel, which was the one that was practically touching the water.  A second and third split came later behind that same third funnel, thus creating four broken pieces instead of two we see in the movie.


image via titanic: h&G on encyclopedia titanica

19. titanic still had some lights on after she split in half

As shown in the movie, the lights on Titanic went out at or around the time she split in half.  However, after she did break up, a few emergency lights, like those you’d find in a building nowadays, kicked on, slightly illuminating the decks, though they didn’t stay on for long as the stern went quickly under water.  Now, imagine seeing that terrifying sight from a lifeboat!




Titanic Trilogy By Gordon Korman: Titanic #1: Unsinkable; Titanic ...

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Unsinkable (Titanic No. 1-3)

This book series was written by Gordon Korman and places readers right into the heart of Titanic.  The story follows four young passengers, Paddy, Sophie, Juliana, and Alfie, in the background stories of how they got on Titanic and who they are and the one looming event that will link them all together into one tragic survival story: the sinking of the RMS Titanic.


Inside the Titanic (A Giant Cutaway Book): Brewster, Hugh, Ken ...

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Inside the Titanic (A Giant Cutaway Book)

This lavishly illustrated book was written by Hugh Brewster and illustrated by a very popular Titanic artist, Ken Marschall (he has some amazing paintings of ocean liners you can look up).  This book tells the gripping story of the Titanic in a visual way that can make you feel like you’re inside the vessel.  It also has two stories of children who sailed on the ship, as well as featuring a giant four-page cutaway of the entire ship.  Whoa!


The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic (P.S.): Gaynor ...

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The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic

Inspired by true events, Hazel Gaynor writes about a story of a group of Irish immigrants aboard the RMS Titanic.  The family in the book consists of fourteen members from a small villager, and they board Titanic in steerage in hopes of finding a better life in America.  The main character, Maggie Murphy, records her bittersweet journey as she knows her future lies in an unknown land while her heart remains in Ireland along with her lover.  Maggie is one of the lucky few survivors in steerage who survive, never to speak of the disaster ever again. In the future, Maggie finally decides to share her painful story with her granddaughter, Grace Butler.


featured image via wikipedia

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