I’m excited that so many are enjoying the characters in my novel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon. Want to know more about the REAL people on the Titanic? My friend Sharyn has been kind enough to write some profiles for us. They are amazing and interesting…enjoy!
We don’t hear much about second-class passengers. Most accounts focus on the arrogance and heroism of the first class or the struggles and obstacles faced by those in third. Fortunately, Lawrence Beesley, a young science teacher from England, offered a rare second-class perspective. His book, The Loss of the S.S. Titanic, Its Story and Its Lessons*, was published within months of the sinking and was one of the first major eyewitness analyses of the sinking.
Beesley, in fact, was asked to write a “correct history” of the event to counteract the pieced-together accounts being planned by media outlets eager to get the details to the public, even if their descriptions were “erroneous, full of highly colored details, and generally calculated to disturb public thought on the matter.” In writing his story, Beesley hoped it would “calm public opinion by stating the truth of what happened as nearly as I could recollect it.” But then he shared an even stronger motive: “Another matter aided me in coming to a decision, the duty that we, as survivors of the disaster, owe to those who went down with the ship, to see that the reforms so urgently needed are not allowed to be forgotten.”
The poetry and candor of Beesley’s account flows from a different place than most authors. Rather than follow a story line based on where his imagination led him, he presented his experiences from an all-too-real place. He realized only those who were there felt the tilting of the boat deck, saw the stars lit against the black sky, smelled the ocean and the cold, and sensed the quiet panic of the souls surrounding them. It was this perspective he offered when he described his impression of the sinking Titanic from his lifeboat:
As the oarsmen pulled slowly away we all turned and took a long look at the mighty vessel towering high above our midget boat, and I know it must have been the most extraordinary sight I shall ever be called upon to witness; I realize now how totally inadequate language is to convey to some other person who was not there any real impression of what we saw.
Nevertheless, Beesley tried to put the reader in his shoes, believing that to be the only way anyone could truly understand the often confusing decisions made that night. He asked his audience to set aside the knowledge they have and the images that had been created for them, and invited them to come stand on the deck and watch the great ship’s demise with him. In doing so, he let his readers see the tragedy through the eyes of other people who were there, even those who didn’t make it.
In this way, Lawrence Beesley—and other survivors who shared their account of the disaster—could, in a small way, bring back to life those whose voices were silenced on April 15, 1912.
* Beesley, Lawrence. “The Loss of the S.S. Titanic: Its Story and Its Lessons.” 1912. The Story of the S.S. Titanic: As Told by Its Survivors. Ed. Jack Winocour. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960. 1-109.
Amelia Gladstone’s hopes are tied up in the Titanic–hopes for a reunion with her sister and an introduction to an admirer. But when she offers a spare ticket to a down-and-out young man, her fate is about to change.
Quentin Walpole is stunned when a sweet lady secures his passage to America–and even more surprised to find his wealthy father and older brother on board the ship. Suddenly Amelia finds herself caught between the attentions of two men, but who should she entrust her heart to? As the fateful night arrives, will Amelia lose everything to the icy waters?