April 15, 1912, is the day the British ocean liner Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. Here are five surprising facts you may not know about the sinking of the Titanic...
The Sinking of the Titanic Was Predicted in More Than One Book At least four fictional books had eerily similar tales of liners that met the same fate as the Titanic. That might not sound so weird until you realize that all four were written before the ship sank. The first was the 1886 novel The Sinking of a Modern Liner, a British story about a ship that leaves Liverpool for New York, hits something, sinks, and loses most of her passengers because she lacked the correct number of lifeboats. What's even stranger is that the author of this book, W.T. Stead, died on the Titanic. Another book is 1898's Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan, in which a liner named Titan, supposedly unsinkable, hits an ice shelf and sinks. Additional creepy details include sinking off Newfoundland, like the Titanic; not having enough lifeboats; and traveling at similar speeds. A third book was 1908's The Ship's Run. However, there were so many similarities between the Titanic and the ship in the book that there is speculation that the author saw construction plans for the Titanic before writing the story. The fourth book was 1912's The White Ghost of Disaster. This book, released as the Titanic was setting sail, saw a ship crash at a specific speed—the same one that the Titanic traveled at when it hit the iceberg.
The Last Titanic Survivor Died in 2009 The last survivor of the Titanic died at age 97 in 2009. According to the BBC, Millvina Dean, was also the youngest passenger on the ship, which she boarded with her parents and brother at just two months old. Although third-class passengers, she, her mother, and her brother escaped in a lifeboat, but her father went down with the ship. Before Dean's death, Titanic director James Cameron and stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio joined together to help pay her nursing home fees.
One of The Ship's Musicians Wasn't Officially Declared Dead Until 2000.
One of the ship's musicians, a 21-year-old cellist, was not actually declared dead until 2000. Roger Bricoux was the Titanic's cello player when he perished during the ship's sinking. But Bricoux wasn't officially declared dead until 2000 although he went down with the ship. The French army even called him a deserter when he failed to show up to serve in World War I. The Association Française du Titanic (French Association of the Titanic) worked to clear his name and officially put Bricoux to rest, but didn't succeed until 88 years after the Titanic sank.
One Little Key Might Have Prevented the Collision A number of factors contributed to the sinking of the ship, of course, but being able to spot icebergs ahead of time, would have really helped. And the ship did carry binoculars that lookouts could have used. However, the binoculars were all locked away -- and the one key that could have given the crew access was carried by the ship's second officer who was replaced from the ship's crew at the last minute. The ship's lookouts, Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee instead had to rely on their eyesight alone. The key resurfaced at auction in 2010, where it was sold for over $130,000.
It Took Nearly 100 Years to Identify One Victim
Of the 1,500-plus who perished, only 300 bodies were recovered. One of the bodies that was recovered was a toddler called the "Unknown Child," and wasn't identified until almost 100 years later. The child's body was recovered from the water five days after the Titanic went down. The body was misidentified three times before he was finally identified as 19-month-old Sidney Goodwin. For almost a century, Goodwin's gravestone in the Fairview Cemetery read "Erected to the memory of an unknown child whose remains were recovered after the disaster to the Titanic April 15th 1912".