In 1898, fourteen years before the Titanic sailed from Southampton for New York, a book called Futility, or The Wreck of the Titan appeared in bookstores. The story in the novel takes place aboard a huge ocean liner called the Titan, said to be “the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men,” and “equal to that of a first class hotel.” The Titan was also supposed to be unsinkable. Sound familiar?
The similarity to the Titanic doesn’t stop there. American Author Morgan Robertson’s Titan was also about 800 feet long, (Titanic’s actual length was 882 feet) was owned by a British steamship company, and didn’t have enough lifeboats to accommodate all of its passengers. (Titanic carried 20, the Titan – 24.) And guess what happened to the fictional Titan? It sank in the north Atlantic after hitting an iceberg on a cold April night. Both the Titanic and the Titan collided with icebergs on their starboard bows.
Robertson re-published his book in 1912 after the Titanic sank. He tweaked a few points to make it sound even more like the actual Titanic disaster, although much of the novel remained the same.
Did Titanic’s designers read Futility and build the ship to purposely resemble the Titan? It’s doubtful, but the similarities are amazing. What do you think?