Life After Titanic Plus My Giveaway Winners

The randomly selected Grand Prize winner of my Titanic Giveaway was Carrie-Anne so I’ll be sending her the autographed copy of WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, gift card, mug and nugget of coal. Second and third place were Amy S and Laurie , who will each receive a $10 Amazon gift card. Thanks to everyone for visiting the blog and commenting!

I thought today I’d wrap up my Titanic themed blogging for this year with a look into what happened to five survivors after they were rescued from the cold Atlantic by the Carpathia.

436px-Margaret_Brown,_standingThe Unsinkable Molly Brown: Margaret Brown’s fame as a well-known Titanic survivor helped her promote the issues she felt strongly about in the years after 1912. Even on board the  Carpathia she created a Survivors Committee and had raised $10,000 to assist the destitute survivors before the ship ever reached New York. In later years she worked hard to establish a Titanic memorial.  She supported many causes from women’s rights to workers’ rights to education and literacy for children and historic preservation. During World War I in France, she worked with the American Committee for Devastated France to rebuild areas behind the front line and helped wounded French and American soldiers. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her good citizenship including her activism and philanthropy in America. During the last years of her life, she was an actress (but apparently only in private performances 0r small venues, NOT the movies or Broadway). She died in 1932. Ironically, the nickname she’s so well known for was created in the 1930’s by a newspaper reporter and immortalized by Hollywood.

(Photo Caption: Mrs. J. J. Brown, Date Unknown, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, George Grantham Bain Collection. Call number: LC-B2- 1405-8[P&P] Digital id:ggbain 07754, Bain News Service, Public Domain)

J. Bruce Ismay:  After the disaster, White Star Managing Director Ismay was castigated by newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic for deserting the ship while women and children were still on board.  He stayed in the ship doctor’s cabin on the Carpathia under heavy sedation, seeing no one. After reaching land, he kept out of the public eye for most of the remainder of his life. He died in 1937.

Officer Charles Lightoller:  He testified at official inquiries in America and England after the disaster, and as the senior surviving officer, did his best to present White Star in a favorable light.  Despite defending the company, his career with White Star came to a dead end and he eventually resigned, working thereafter as an innkeeper, chicken farmer and property speculator. He wrote his autobiography in the 1930’s, which did quite well, although the Marconi Company sued to have it taken off store shelves over a remark he made about their employees on board Titanic. He owned a small private ship and participated in the rescue operation at Dunkirk. After World War II ended, he managed a boatyard. Lightoller died in 1952.

Winnifred Vera Quick :  She was 8 years and 3 months old when the Titanic sailed. She and her 3 year old sister were placed in Lifeboat No. 11 but her mother was denied entry until she said she wouldn’t let the girls go if she couldn’t go. Her mother was the last person allowed in the boat. Winnifred and her sister were put into a sack to be hauled up to the Carpathia’s deck. her  In later life she left school after the 8th grade, worked at a chocolate factory, a bakery and various retail stores, married a man she had first met at age 14, and had five children. She passed away in 2002.

Annie Katherine Kelly: Along with thirteen other young people from her village in Ireland, known as the Addergoole Fourteen, Ms. Kelly embarked on Titanic at the age of 20.  She was one of the few Third Class passengers who survived the disaster, and only two other women from their small group survived. A steward who had taken special notice of her earlier in the voyage on “the nicest ship in the world”, as she’d called it in a letter to a relative, made sure she got into Lifeboat No. 16.  She was hospitalized in New York for six weeks, then released with literally only her hospital nightgown and a donated coat and shoes, along with fellow survivor Anna McGowan. They were given train tickets to Chicago, where she had relatives, and once she arrived there, funds were raised for her from generous donors in the city. For the rest of her life, Ms. Kelly refused to discuss her experiences on Titanic or even to write them down. At the age of 29 she entered a religious order and became Sister Patrick Joseph Kelly. She died in 1969, after spending many years as a much beloved teacher in Chicago.

So there you have it, a sampling of what kind of lives people went on to have after surviving the sinking. What do you think you would have done in 1912 if you’d been a survivor?

Titanic lifeboat


Titanic – Unsinkable Molly Brown

Other than fictional Rose and Jack, probably the most famous “character” in the sinking of the Titanic would be the Unsinkable Molly Brown. Not only is she a real person, she was a colorful American, widow of a mining baron and had a Broadway musical and a movie made just about her (“The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” 1964, with Debbie Reynolds).

The IMDb blurb about that movie sums up how most people think of Molly: “…uneducated, poor, mountain girl who leaves her mountain cabin in search of a wealthy husband, respect and a better life.”

Except….no. Her real name was Margaret Brown and she never went by Molly. The Broadway producers decided Molly was an easier name to work into songs. She did tag herself with the nickname “Unsinkable”, telling reporters “The ship can sink but I can’t; I’m unsinkable”.

Daughter of immigrants, born in Missouri close to the Mississippi, later in life she enrolled at the Carnegie Institute and studied literature, drama  and languages – she spoke French, Russian and German, which enabled her to communicate with and translate for the Steerage class survivors who spoke no English on board the rescue ship Carpathia.

 At age 18 she and her married sister moved to Leadville, CO, getting a job in a department store, working in the Carpets & Draperies department. She met and married J. J. Brown, who was not rich at the time. Here’s what she said:

I wanted a rich man, but I loved Jim Brown. I thought about how I wanted comfort for my father and how I had determined to stay single until a man presented himself who could give to the tired old man the things I longed for him. Jim was as poor as we were, and had no better chance in life. I struggled hard with myself in those days. I loved Jim, but he was poor. Finally, I decided that I’d be better off with a poor man whom I loved than with a wealthy one whose money had attracted me. So I married Jim Brown.

They did become rich later, through her husband’s work for a mining company. Eventually they moved to Denver, where Maggie (as she was known) became quite the society lady. Sadly the couple separated in 1909, although they never actually divorced.  Prior to sailing on the Titanic she had spent the winter in Egypt with the Astors, who were about as high society and rich as it got in that era. She was returning to America on the Titanic because her grandson was ill.

During the sinking, she was credited with encouraging many people to get into the lifeboats before she herself was convinced to get into Lifeboat #6. She and the sailor in charge of that boat had a quarrel as she wanted to row back and pick up survivors, while he was terrified that the suction from the sinking ship would take their lifeboat under.

 While still on the Carpathia steaming for New York, she established a Survivor’s Fund and raised $10,000 (about $250,000 in today’s dollars). She refused to leave the ship until all the survivors had somewhere to go. She arranged for a silver cup and medals for the Carpathia’s captain and crew in honor of their heroic rescue work.

According to the, here’s what she wrote to her lawyer after returning to New York:

“Thanks for the kind thoughts. Water was fine and swimming good. Neptune was exceedingly kind to me and I am now high and dry.”

She was a lifelong advocate for women’s rights, literacy and education. She was one of the first women to ever run for political office.  By one account, she also became an actress later in life!

From Wikipedia, here are the actresses who have portrayed this amazing woman:

I don’t have an Unsinkable Maggie Brown type character in my novel SFR Wreck of the Nebula Dream but I like to think my characters share her kind of determination and will to survive, and to help others escape the disaster as well.