Accuracy in Titanic Fiction What We Know Now or What They Knew Then

Apr 27, 2008
I've read a number of primary and secondary sources about the Titanic and its sinking for both my general edutainment and research for my book and after realizing how many Titanic buffs exist in the world, I began to wonder how to approach the tragedy in historical fiction.

The basic, underlying point of historical fiction is to entertain and recount historical events usually through the eyes of fictional characters. As such, historical accuracy is key, and gleaning details through primary resources are considered a plus. However, primary resources can be biased and/or inaccurate, which is where secondary resources step in to rectify past assumptions. Yet, is it accurate to write historical fiction using information we now know? Barring changing the personalities and whereabouts of the persons aboard the ship, or the sinking times, who was in what life boat, etc, if an author made the deliberate decision to write the sinking based on contemporary reports, memoirs, and newspaper articles rather than on what we've learned since Ballard's discovery of the wreck, would that ruin your enjoyment of the book?
Feb 8, 2007
My opinion is that you should stay accurate to what was known at the time period of your book. With Titanic, I think you have *some* leeway to decide whose version you want to follow. After all, not even the eyewitnesses agreed on every point. I think that's perfectly reasonable given the chaos of the event. And there is much we just don't know that you can be free to write as it fits your story.

But if I were reading your book, I'd be thrown out of story if you brought in information no one knew at the time (assuming I knew enough to catch it).

I also wrote an historical novel about Titanic, but mine has time travelers in it. I have all kinds of modern interpretations in the story, but the reader can (I hope) understand why that knowledge is there. Without the time travelers, there's modern perspective possible.

Good luck with it!

Joe Campbell

Apr 4, 2011
I'm writing a historical Titanic as well; with fictional charters it’s hard to fit them in the time line. I just finished chapter one not too long ago, yea it took me almost eight years to do it!

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