Cruise History: The sinking of the actual RMS Titanic and the fictitious sinking of the Titan. Was it coincidence?
Art doesn’t just imitate life — sometimes it anticipates it. Fourteen years before the RMS Titanic was built, the American Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility or The Wreck of the Titan (1898) that prefigured the real ship’s destiny with remarkable precision.
The Titanic and the Titan were both triple-screwed British passenger liners with a capacity of 3,000 and a top speed of 24 knots.
Both were deemed unsinkable; both carried too few lifeboats.
And both sank in April in the North Atlantic after colliding with an iceberg on the forward starboard side.
Futility, 1898 Edition About the Titan
Morgan Robertson’s novel described the ship’s loss. It struck an iceberg and went down in April.
The Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912 and sank a little over two hours later at 2.20 a.m. on April 15, 1912. The novel was republished, after the Titanic sank, with the title Futility and the Wreck of the Titan. Some of the Titan’s statistics were changed.
John Rowland, Futility’s hero, is a disgraced former Royal Navy lieutenant, who’s a drunkard. After being dismissed from the Navy, he’s a deckhand on the Titan. Then ship hits an iceberg and sinks. There aren’t enough lifeboats. He saves a former lover’s daughter by jumping onto the iceberg with her. Rowland finds a lifeboat washed up on the iceberg and they’re rescued by a passing ship.