Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.

SIGN UP FOR SNEAK PEEKS OF MY NEXT BOOK + NEWSLETTER-ONLY UPDATES.

Mysteries of the Titanic

The sad fate of the RMS Titanic continues to haunt us. On April 14, 1912, over 1500 people lost their lives due to a tragic combination of human errors.

Oddly enough, the disaster could have been avoided if Captain Edward Smith had only read Futility, a work of fiction that was published fourteen years before Titanic sank.

Futility is the story of the Titan, a fictional ocean liner that was of nearly the same length and tonnage as the Titanic. Both ships departed from Southampton, England; both carried 3000 passengers; and both had three propellers. Each ship had many wealthy passengers, and both struck an iceberg at the same spot in the same month and sank.

Many passengers died on the fictional Titan for the same reason they did on the Titanic–a critical shortage of lifeboats.

Oddly, one of the people who died in the Titanic disaster was W.T. Stead, a famous journalist and spiritualist who had written a short story in 1892 about a similar sinking.

Meanwhile in Winnipeg, a Canadian prairie city, Reverend Charles Morgan arrived at church to post the day’s hymns. He then decided to nap until it was time for the service, but his sleep was disrupted by terrible nightmares of crashing waves and darkness. Above the commotion, he could hear a choir singing an old hymn he hadn’t thought of in years.

Shrugging off the disturbing dream, he went back to sleep, but the same nightmare awakened him. This time, he felt compelled to act, so he posted a new hymn number on the board.

When the service began, the congregation sang the hymn from Morgan’s nightmare–an odd hymn for a church thousands of miles from the ocean. “Hear, Father, while we pray to Thee, for those in peril on the sea.” Still upset, Morgan’s eyes filled with tears.

Soon afterward, the reverend learned that as they were singing the hymn, the Titanic was sinking on the North Atlantic. Several prominent Winnipeggers lost their lives on the ship.

Years later, in April 1935, sailor William Reeves was standing watch on the Titanian. Memories of the Titanic disaster haunted him, especially since his boat was traveling the same still waters. At midnight, the hour of Titanic’s end, Reeves remembered that the great ship had sunk on his own birthday.

Completely freaked out, Reeves yelled, and the Titanian stopped just short of a massive iceberg. Other icebergs were nearby. The steamer was marooned for nine days until icebreakers from Newfoundland cut them free.

What do you think about these Titanic mysteries? Were they simply coincidences, or was something else at work?

If you can’t get enough of the Titanic, check out my post Tragedy on an Epic Scale.

– With files from Charles Berlitz’s World of Strange Phenomena

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

48 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Another fascinating post. The story of Reverend Morgan have me chills. I’m from Portsmouth which is the neighbouring city to Southampton so Titanic is very much in the social consciousness.

    TD Harvey
    A to Z participant
    http://www.tdharveyauthor.com

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Tee. Every place seems to have a strong link to the Titanic. I was really surprised at how many Winnipeggers were on the ship. On the surface, there wouldn’t seem to be any connection, but there’s quite a few.

      Reply
  2. Avatar

    good gracious and good grief J.H. these stories are chilling and I don’t think it’s because of imagining the icy seas.

    A link you may want to explore is “Uncle Olaus Survives the Titanic.”Story Crossings – Story Slams & Storytelling from A to Z. I don’t know if you’ll be able to click on to this as I’ve copied and pasted … it’s Pam Faro …

    Reply
    • JH

      I would say!

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    Oh wow! I’d only heard of the first mystery–the one about the book that predicted it all. I think it was mentioned in “A Night to Remember?” It makes you wonder if the author was psychic.

    Reply
    • JH

      It really does, Stephanie. The one thing I’ve never read about is how the author of Futility reacted when his book came true. I imagine that was quite a shock.

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    Titanic has always fascinated me.

    All of those strange coincidences gave me goosebumps. It seems that Titanic was destined to sink.

    “…for those in peril on the sea…” I remember them singing that in the movie with Kate Winslet and I thought it was clever of them to add that song and that verse into the movie. The story behind that hymn is chilling.

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, it is pretty spooky. Rev. Morgan was obviously getting a message from somewhere. I live in Winnipeg, and it’s a long way from the North Atlantic.

      Or any ocean, sadly.

      Reply
  5. Avatar

    Uh… I actually have a chill down my spine now. I read a lot about the Titanic (the movie was the big thing in my early teenage years), but I never knew these stories. Wow.

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

    Reply
    • JH

      Glad to creep you out, and to add to your Titanic repertoire. 😉

      Reply
  6. Avatar

    I’ve heard a few of those stories in relation to the Titanic. It always sends chills down my spine. Coincidence or something more?

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee’s Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    Reply
    • JH

      I think Rev Morgan was definitely getting a precognitive message somehow. Maybe when that many people are in trouble, those who are especially sensitive can pick up on it.

      Reply
  7. Avatar

    I read about the book that preceded the sinking of the Titanic and it gave me the chills to think how someone had envisioned the disaster before it happened. Now you’ve added more layers to the tragic tale. Wow! I’m beginning to believe that coincidence is far too simple an explanation for all surrounding that fateful night.

    Reply
    • JH

      There are plenty of strange stories, Lee, and I wonder if there are others I haven’t discovered.

      There seems to be no end of people who had premonitions not to get on the ship, and followed their instincts, most likely saving their own lives.

      Reply
  8. Avatar

    Whoa, creepy. Especially the story Futility. Titan… Titanic… I mean, really, the similarities are freaky. I’m going to go hide, now.

    Reply
    • JH

      Yeah, they are. I’ve always loved that story. So spooky. Imagine if one of the books you wrote came to life.

      Makes you think, doesn’t it?

      Reply
  9. Avatar

    God was most definitely at work there. I’ve had intuitions, too, about song selections, or calling someone, or some other action, and it is the thing that is needed. Great research about those details!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Mary. I appreciate the comment.

      Reply
      • Avatar

        It was fun to read this again. I had forgotten about Reeves. Yes, intuition, spirits, God, whatever you want to call it is at work.

        Reply
  10. Avatar

    I love these types of coincidences. Here’s a real life one that gives me chills every time I think about it:

    I have a friend who was travelling to the Southern coast of India to stay at a resort on the beach. It was a 12-hour car ride from the north where her family lived. After about 5 hours on the road, her 7-year-old daughter started crying hysterically and my friend decided to stop at the nearest town for lunch. She thought that maybe her daughter had cabin fever from the car travel, because it was so out of her daughter’s character to cry that way. That afternoon, her daughter was still distraught, so my friend decided to cancel her trip to the coast and go back home to the north. Once she got home that night, he daughter was fast asleep.

    This was in 2004, the day before the tsunami hit the coast of India. My friend would have been on the beach that day, with both her kids, when the tsunami hit.

    Sometimes, I feel, there are definitely other hands at play…

    Reply
    • JH

      Wow, Tanya! That’s a fantastic story. Thanks so much for sharing it.

      I’m so glad your friend turned her car around. It definitely saved the life of her and her daughter.

      Welcome to my blog! I hope to see you back here someday–you’re welcome anytime. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Avatar

    I actually read somewhere recently that the whole Titanic sinking was a conspiracy to kill a bunch of people that was opposed to something like the world bank or the federal reserve or something along those lines.

    Seems a bit far fetched to me, but the theory is that the story about the Titan served as inspiration for the mastermind and that the ship was basically driven into the iceberg on purpose.

    Reply
    • JH

      Wow, talk about a crazy theory, Misha! I’ve read quite a bit about Captain Smith, and I don’t think he was the kind of man who would go along with something like that. He was extremely honourable–chose to go down with his ship rather than use his rank and position to save himself.

      I don’t know how you can plan for a ship to hit an iceberg, and since many of the people responsible for the tragedy lost their lives, it would have been a pretty flawed plan.

      Reply
      • Avatar

        I also read an article recently that claimed there was no iceberg involved!

        Reply
  12. Avatar

    I’ve only seen the Titanic movie once, and I watched a documentary on it. Both my mom and I can’t think too much about the story because it feels like we were there. After watching the movie I had vivid dreams for weeks, including details that weren’t in the movie. My mom did too. I feel a tremendous amount of sadness whenever the Titanic is mentioned. Possibly a past life, maybe not. But some stories strike deeper into our emotional psyche than others.

    Reply
    • JH

      Most definitely, Bonnie. There have been much greater human tragedies and things that are resulting in a larger loss of life even now. There must be some reason that Titanic still resonates with us so much.

      James Cameron was pretty brilliant for recognizing that and tapping into it.

      Reply
  13. Avatar

    Cool stories.

    I think some people can tap into the spirit realm and then they magically “know” things. Children and older people are much closer to that realm. When we’re in the middle, we loose touch for some time because we get caught up in what we believe are important things.

    Reply
    • JH

      I have to agree with you there, Ula. When I was a kid, I used to get premonitions all the time, but now I can’t remember the last time I had one. It’s been years.

      I’m kind of glad they stopped, though. They were always bad.

      Reply
  14. Avatar

    I did not know about these coincidences. Fascinating!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Nadine! And thanks for stopping by. I’ll check out today’s plant post. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Avatar

    Ooo! I knew about this one!

    There was also a fantastic and true story about a reporter who turned in a story to his editor about a massive volcano eruption. He had made it up from the dream he had because he had fallen asleep before he wrote the story he was supposed to do. He scooped every one because it was published the day before or however long it was before it happened. Later, he found out that the fabricated story was so freaking accurate that his editor asked how he knew that Krakatoa on Java Island had erupted.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Edward Sampson. Of course to find the full truth if it actually happened then they would have go through the archives of 1883.

      Reply
      • JH

        Very cool story, Djinnia! Thanks for sharing. Who knows…maybe a lot of reporters have a bit of a sixth sense.

        You certainly have to be able to walk in another’s shoes and have a very high bullshit detector.

        Reply
  16. Avatar

    One strange story might be written off as coincidence, but all these tales start to push the boundaries of skepticism. Fascinating stuff, isn’t it? I could feel my skin pricking with goosebumps as soon as you talked about “Futility,” and they didn’t go away until I’d finished reading.

    I have no idea *what* else might have been at work, but there has to more to it than coincidence. I mean, really. What are the odds???

    Reply
  17. JH

    I love that I gave you goosebumps, Kern! That’s a very nice compliment for this writer, so thank you.

    I too think all the coincidences surrounding the Titanic sinking are more than a little spooky.

    Reply
  18. Avatar

    The coincidence of Futility has always fascinated me. It’s just too coincidental, it sounds like fiction.

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, it does. It’s truly bizarre!

      Reply
  19. Avatar

    All the coincidences certainly are chilling! I am definitely one of the many still fascinated with the sinking of the Titanic; truly a tragedy 🙁
    #daringcreative

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for visiting my blog, Annie! Hope to see you back here sometime.

      It was a moment we’ll never forget. The Titanic is a powerful story of human frailty.

      Reply
  20. Avatar

    I had no idea about any of this. The thought of Rev Morgan having that dream gave me chills. Imagine his horror when his nightmare came true. And the same for the author of Futility too.
    Debbie

    Reply
  21. Avatar

    Sometimes coincidence seems too trite an answer for things like this. I feel we’re all connected in some way and so sometimes things like this get through on a different level than our “consciousness” allows…

    Reply
  22. Avatar

    It’s always interesting to read new tidbits about this colossal disaster. As for Rev. Morgan, I do believe some people are tuned in to the universe a bit more than others. W.T. Stead was a fascinating, forward thinking man and he should have heeded his own intuition.

    Reply
  23. Avatar

    I’m a firm believer that things we can’t explain happen for reasons beyond our human capacity. While we search for causes and effects, synchronicity–those acausal connections–rules the cosmos.

    Reply
  24. Avatar

    I know about all of these stories since I love reading about the Titanic. I know something else happened around 1922, but I can’t remember right now. I will try to find it. There is something to all of this and more than just coincidence

    Reply
  25. Avatar

    All these occurrences can’t be a coincidence! I also find the connection to Winnipeg interesting – did you recently find out or, as a resident, did you know some of the Titanic’s history and “destiny” had ties to your city?

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.