Book selection in the 1st class Lounge R&W room and 2nd class library

Isnt it curious that 2nd class had thier own library, but 1st class did not?
Granted there was a large bookcase in the 1st class lounge, and I dont think there were many books in the R&W room...
Do we have any idea what books Titanic carried?
I wonder if Lawrence Beesley kept that book he was reading in 2nd class the night of the sinking..
Im wondering if the books were stamped "RMS Titanic"....
I wonder if any books from Olympic's library still exists...


Tarn Stephanos
Do we have any idea what books Titanic carried?
Now that's what I call an interesting question. Given the preoccupation with respectability in those days, I expect choosing the books for the library might have been a bit tricky. One had to consider the ladies ... so no Elinor Glynn then, though I don't think she'd really got into her stride by 1912. Not sure. Some improving biographies and some religious books, for certain, I would have thought. I suddenly realise how little I know about books for popular consumption in that era. Did they have thrillers, or crime books? You'd expect some Dickens, but even he only became really iconic a little later on. Diary of a Nobody or Three Men in a Boat, maybe? And would they have reflected the international mix of passengers, with American and European literature?

Anyway, one does hope they didn't have Futility in there ....

I have a vague idea that anyone, in either 1st or 2nd class could use the library.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
The term 'library' had two connotations - the room where one read the books, or the cabinet in which they were stored. In the latter sense, both 1st and 2nd Class were provided with a single book cabinet of probably equal size, but for some reason only the 2nd Class lounge was designated a 'library'. Some of the German liners provided a small library even for 3rd Class. White Star obtained their books from the Times Book Club, and updated the stock regularly in line with current tastes.

This is the main thread for more detail:

And an interesting external link:

If Beesley didn't take his books back, by the way, there must be a helluva fine due by now. :)
Good links.

How interesting it was all out-sourced to Harrods or the Times Book Club. How very contemporary they were. However, it doesn't really tell us what the passengers were reading.

I still have one helluva a fine due to my local library, and mostly because of those Titanic films. How many times has David Warner done this?
Monica, you might want to check out some of these popular titles from 1911/12 - all can be downloaded free from Project Gutenberg:

The Reef, by Edith Wharton
Riders of the Purple Sage, by Zane Grey
Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, by Stephen Leacock
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, by James Weldon Johnson
The Life Everlasting, by Marie Corelli
The Unbearable Bassington, by Saki
Edith Wharton, yes I did wonder about her being on the shelves. I don't think I can take much of hers, really, although she did have a revivalist moment a few years back in the feminist press. Always loved Saki, though less The Unbearable Bassington than the short stories, especially those involving children and Aunts, or animals (The Lumber Room, The Stalled Ox, Tobermory, The Unrest Cure.... wonderful!)

The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man sounds most puzzling, so may check that one out!
>>Do we have any idea what books Titanic carried?<<

Archibald Gracie loaned his own copy of The Truth About Chickamauga to Isidor Straus. While not strictly speaking a library book, it is still on board.

Gracie names the only Titanic library book we know about:

"The book that I finished and returned to the ship's library was Mary Johnston's Old Dominion."

Gracie said this was a book of "tales of adventure and accounts of extraordinary escapes."

It is about Virginia, and Gracie the Old Confederate must have lapped it up. The Titanic copy was probably a 1907 version in green leather published by Archibald Constable & Co.

This one has a frontis photo of the author.

He added: "How little I thought that in the next few hours I should be a witness and a party to a scene to which this book could furnish no counterpart."

There are plenty of copies of The Old Dominion available to buy on ABE.
Unfortunately The Old Dominion isn't available as a Gutenberg freebie, but they do offer Johnston's To Have and to Hold, which was more of the same and her No 1 best-seller. Back in 1912 the historical romance was not a genre aimed exclusively at women, but even so I'm just a little surprised that Gracie found it so appealing. Mind you, he also thought cricket was exciting, so to each his own.

By far the best of Johnston's novels are the Civil War epics Cease Firing and The Long Roll, which would have been right up Gracie's street and were well grounded in the war diaries of her father and uncle, who was a Confederate General. These works inspired Margaret Mitchell to write a little piece called Gone with the Wind, and were the favourite bedtime reading for one Dwight D Eisenhower: "If I want to read military tactics for pleasure, I choose to read Mary Johnston". If the German High Command had done the same, they might have put up a better fight!

These books can still be easily obtained in paperback through, as can The Old Dominion, but that one is easier to find under its alternative (and original) title of Prisoners of Hope: A Tale of Colonial Virginia.

Paul Rogers

"Mind you, he also thought cricket was exciting, so to each his own."

But it is exciting Bob! In fact, it is without doubt the greatest game ever invented by Man, with the possible exception of Brockian Ultra-cricket.

Paul Rogers

"Clearly, Paul, you haven't discovered Ludo."

Well, if you're going to widen the field to include non-team games, then I'll grant you Ludo is hard to beat. Although it does face stiff competition from the likes of Mastermind and Scrabble.
Cricket... Ludo, happy memories but ... etc. You guys are so old-fashioned. My old gran, who'd be 120 now if she were alive, loved cricket. But she'd have loved Slam-Ball (spelling?) even more if she were still with us. Have you seen it? Laugh? Orwell said (something like..) sport is war without the bullets. Well, Slam-Ball takes you back way beyond - it is sheer entertainment.
Slam-ball? You can't impress us with wet and weedy girly games. You need to have been one down in a Subutteo final on extra time, or to be down to your last conker in a grudge match before you know what it's like to live life on the edge.
Getting back to the library ...

A couple of years ago I proofread the digitization of the history of the Toronto Public Library. (correcting the "a's" and "l's" the Optical Character Recognition software thought were "o's" and "i's".)

Anyway,I read there was a kerfuffle around the turn of the century about buying popular fiction with taxpayers' money. The chief librarian argued that carrying popular titles encouraged literacy and library use. The Board thought it was a frivolous waste. It was a very sore point and it was put to a pleblicite.
(The chief librarian won).