Officers' Relationships


Inger Sheil

Member
You've got as much right to an opinion as anyone else, Kritina - and it's more informed than many on the subject of James Moody.

I don't know if it was a unique chracteristic, but he certainly had a lively sense of humour and was - as the legend among shipmates was passed down - full of fun and mischief. He also seems to have had a remarkable ability to make the best of the situations he found himself in over the course of his short life.

Historical fiction, when well-written, can be a powerful tool in recreating the past. Gore Vidal's Lincoln comes closer to recreating the man than many, possibly even most, of the non-fictional biographies of the man. Minutely researched, Vidal has breathed life into a very viable interpretation of both man and age. Beryl Bainbridge does likewise with the Scott expedition - she recreates the era and the characters in such a natural way that, while utterly faithful to the period and a convincing portrait, does not seem mannered or contrived. Sometimes these fictional interpretations work better than the clumsier biographies, some of which tell us more about the writer and their era than that of their subject.
 
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Allison Lane

Guest
I have a long list of lookups I need to get around to doing - potential leads to follow up.

I take it this is my cue as a fellow editorial person/researcher to step up and offer to help?
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Seriously, though, if you think there's ever anything I can do for you, please let me know.

Although not written with 100% historical veracity (how could it be, when so little has been published on what they want to write about?), there is a concern for these characters as human beings who really did live - not as extensions of a fantasy.

Exactly. When I was writing my horrid piece of cheez, I wanted to make them as faithfully real as possible. I don't think I succeeded very well, but now that I know more about their personalities I'm thinking about giving it another go once I get out of college.


That's what I've always believed, which is why I wind up having to keep any historical figures I use at a distance from the OC's. It's the only way to keep everyone in their proper place.

I love them too much not to use them. Is that bad?
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Your approach has total merit, though.

Well, they do have certain responsibilities...but one could also argue that fanfiction is not "real" writing.

This is true. You could probably view fanfiction as an exercise in honing your craft for the real thing, but a lot of us still take it very seriously. I'm still not entirely sure I'd classify a Titanic story as fanfiction, though--only if you were approaching it from the Cameron-fashioned angle, I suppose.

On the subject--Inger, do you have more insights into Boxhall?
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-Allison L.
 
Inger, I don't know what I have done without your help! I'm so grateful to you!

Here is so difficult to get information about Titanic, because Finland is quite small country. If I'm right, only one writer is wrote a book about Titanic (Ulla Appelsin: 'Titanicin tuntematon lapsi' which is 'The Unknown Child of the Titanic' in English). And I can't read it because it's so sad! I start to cry when I read it! I've read about two or three pages only, when I started to cry...
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I have to come to England and visit many places, I was in England a couple of years ago, but I was there about five days, but I enjoyed it very much!
 

Inger Sheil

Member
I hope to meet up with you some time when we're both in the UK, Hanna! I appreciate how difficult it can be to access material, particularly in another language.
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On the subject--Inger, do you have more insights into Boxhall?
Well...a few, perhaps! It depends on what is being asked - I don't want to repeat myself too much, and I know we've chatted at length about Boxhall in a few threads on the board
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There's a good deal of work on Boxhall still to be done - I have a broad outline of his career, but would like to look at certain periods in more detail. There are still a few pieces of the timeline to fill out, and many more agreements and/or logs connected with his career I'd like to locate. His WWI service is another period needing further research - I have his service record, but would like to fill in some more of the picture behind the dates, ships and postings.​
 
Yeah, I hope it too, Inger! It is hard but I learn more and more English when I read books etc in English and that's very good
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!

I got Patrick Stenson's book 'The Odyssey of C. H. Lightoller' when my uncle ordered it from Titanic Historical Society. But I thought, do you have got a picture of Lightollers' Netley Abbey house? I would like to see it because I read it was big (including tennis court) and I just love big houses!
 
Hello,

I know this is off topic, but since fictionalizing the people involved in the disaster was mentioned and there were two fan-fic writers on this thread, may I put in two cents?

This applies to neither of the authors.

I'm reading a biography the author claims is entirely true - the fruit of 11 years of investigation. Yet the author invents conversations and situations that are obvious fabrications (Who knows what lovers say in private? Who knows that the 'hero' wrapped his strong arms around the crying heroine?) to prove his accusation that a famous author [the villain] plagarized a lesser known author's story, earned an undeserved knighthood, and ultimately killed the lesser author [the 'hero' and true shining knight of this story] to conceal his many dastardly doings.

The author hasn't proven guilt beyond reasonable doubt. (I'm reasonable, and I doubt it). I've slogged through half the thick book, and conclude that he cannot. Even if one-fourth of it is true, I can't believe it because he's wrapped his 'evidence' in a poorly written novelization. He is using the melodrama to puff up his argument. He doesn't cite any references for his descriptions of his characters' words and actions, provides few dates, and his bibliography is a mess. Yet he writes this cross between a gothic horror novel and a Barbara Cartlandish romance and tells his readers in the first sentence that it is not fiction.

I suppose one can liken the book to the Murdoch suicide scene in Cameron's Titanic movie. One does not believe a movie to be completely true; but one expects the portrayals of real people to be prove-ably accurate.

I admired Kritina's Lowe-Moody story, and I own copies of several historical novels, including Gore Vidal's "Lincoln". Historical fiction is a fascinating way to get to know a time period or major event or famous people. Even when I think 'it' happened differently than the author wrote, I can respect his/her interpretation is either 'right for the plot' or 'is plausible'. "Lincoln" is not complete truth IMHO, but it was based on John Hay's writings, and Hay was one of Lincoln's secretaries. Vidal researched well and wrote well, and most of it is through Hay's viewpoint. I can believe Hay could have seen his boss and the war the way Vidal wrote it. And it's a novel. I'm not supposed to believe it to be true.

[I can also believe that an officer - it doesn't have to be Mr. Murdoch - or a passenger might have preferred shooting himself and dying quickly to drowning or to dying slowly of hypothermia.]
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Very interesting points, Marilyn - and now you have me trying to guess the author accused of plagiarism! It sounds like one of the most atrocious purchases I ever made in the field of biofic - 'The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte'. That author wraps up a theory about murder in the Haworth parsonage in what is a fictional novel, but is (apparently) quite seriously proposing this as an interpretation of the evidence around the deaths of the Bronte sisters. At least he doesn't go so far as to have it masquerading under biography, however!
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"Lincoln" is not complete truth IMHO, but it was based on John Hay's writings, and Hay was one of Lincoln's secretaries. Vidal researched well and wrote well, and most of it is through Hay's viewpoint. I can believe Hay could have seen his boss and the war the way Vidal wrote it. And it's a novel. I'm not supposed to believe it to be true.
Absolutely - it's a 'viable interpretation' (as I said above), but not presented as an objective non-fiction work. One thing that I found particularly appealing is the use of historical material, but not in a strained or obvious way. In some historical fiction, it's quite obvious when the author has turned to a contemporary source - suddenly their voice changes, and it stands out like a sore thumb. Vidal's work, in my opinion, is more seamless - and he has a delightful eye for the details that bring it alive. Drawing on the Nicolay - Hay papers, he extracted and used the detail of a key mentioned in a letter from Hay to his fellow secretary. It's a tiny touch, but this layering of detail makes the work convincing. He also managed to use some of the more problematical material connected with the Lincoln story, but did it in such a way that it is not given the 'authority' of having a character (e.g. Hay) witness it at first hand. Some of Billy Herndon's racier stories about his former law partner get an airing, but they are related in the text by none other than Billy himself - Hay is in a similar position to what the reader is now in assessing their veracity. In other instances, Washington gossip of the time that has come down to us is related in the text as just that - gossip reported from one character to another. As in real life, we have multiple biased viewpoints. The only one lacking is that of Lincoln himself - a point some reviewers took issue with, but which I thought worked effectively. We are left to interpret the man through how those around him saw him.

Of course, there are also major fictional interpolations (the adventures of characters such as Hay, Herold and Robert Lincoln in the seamier side of Washington life comes to mind) that, while truthfully representing certain aspects of life at that time, are connected specifically with characters and incidents that are entirely the inventions of the author. There are also deliberate manipulations of fact - the author's relocation of Herold's workplace, for example.

Fictional interpretations of historic individuals are always going to be difficult - facts are often in dispute, and if we can't even agree on them, there's little chance that we will on their interpretation. What represents an acceptable level of departure from the historical record (such as there is!) is going to differ from person to person - I know many people enjoyed 'The Other Boleyn Girl', but I disliked it very much. I felt that the author had selected the most salacious and controversial elements of Anne Boleyn's story (and ones disputed by most historians) and used them as the basis for her work.​
 
"I'm reading a biography the author claims is entirely true - the fruit of 11 years of investigation"

That's the problem right there...whenever an author jumps up and CLAIMS that what he/she/it is writing is entirely true, there's a very, very good chance that 9/10 of it is false. If they have to declare up front, "This is a work of nonfiction. Everything I'm saying is gospel truth", rather than letting the text speak for itself, then you have a case of a lying writer with a guilty conscience.

Stretching back a couple of weeks...

"I love them too much not to use them"

I don't see anything wrong with that approach, Allison. And I was like that myself once...and still feel guilty at the large manuscript I have sitting around that has some of those real people as characters. But I also have this feeling that too much love equals deity-making. And that's even more wrong, if you think about it. In the case of the Titanic, you have (for the most part) otherwise ordinary people who just happened to become part of something infamous. Does that make them somehow remote and untouchable in all things? I would hope not, because it strips them of their humanity.

And I wasn't trying to denigrate fanfiction as a whole in my earlier post. I couldn't do that, and consciously try to attempt this particularly massive epic fanfic I've spent years working on otherwise!
 
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Allison Lane

Guest
I don't see anything wrong with that approach, Allison. And I was like that myself once...and still feel guilty at the large manuscript I have sitting around that has some of those real people as characters. But I also have this feeling that too much love equals deity-making. And that's even more wrong, if you think about it. In the case of the Titanic, you have (for the most part) otherwise ordinary people who just happened to become part of something infamous. Does that make them somehow remote and untouchable in all things? I would hope not, because it strips them of their humanity.

You make a very good point. And it's the exact reason why I'm asking so much about their personalities and relationships and what they were really like--I want to make them as real and human as possible. It sort of all goes back to my comment about fanfic writers having a duty to do right by their characters when they're actual historical figures. Plus I respect them too much to want to make them caricatures, unconsciously or not.

I have realized that what I have written of my Titanic story (which was mostly done way back my junior year of high school) is highly embarassing from a characterization point of view and I would like to rectify that when doing my revisions.
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-Allison L.
 
I have read somewhere that Murdoch and Lightoller were good friends, even before they met on the Titanic. I think they might have met on the Medic, I'm not sure. Is that true?

[Moderator's Note: This message, originally posted as a separate thread under the "Murdoch" subtopic, has been moved to this pre-existing thread. MAB]
 

Inger Sheil

Member
I've addressed this above, Kari, but essentially there is very little data extant regarding how strong their friendship was. They probably did meet on the Medic - that's the first record of them serving together, and as their service with her occured early in their WSL careers it would seem probable that's when they first met. I seem to recall that Lightoller did later refer to Murdoch as 'an old shipmate' in a radio interview. Two seperate branches of Murdoch's family also recalled he visited them in later years, which suggests friendship beyond that which would require the courtesy of a simple condolence letter.
 
I was wondering which officers already knew each other before they joined the Titanic. I know Boxhall and Lightoller knew each other before. Along with Murdoch and Lightoller. But who else knew each other? Thank for the help.

Best regards,
Kari
 
I belive Pitman and moody knew each other.

[Moderator's Note: This message and the one immediately above it, originally posted to a separate thread, have been moved to this pre-existing one addressing the same subject. MAB]
 
Speakin' of Lights & adorable Will Murdoch...

I would like to know just how close they really were as fellow shipmates and as well as on shore. If anybody knows, then please clue me in. Okay?

As if you couldn't already tell, I have a very special soft spot in my heart for Will.
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Thank you.
 
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