Other other than crew can anyone recommend any good biographies of passengers ? Have there been any there any in-depth studies of lets say the Astors in proper book form like you’d buy a biography about a celebrity ?
But I thought the Astors were one of the richest men/couples in the world and there was plenty of gossip in magazines about his new younger wife ? Were they not a bit like a celebrity couple - making the papers, magazines etc. Maybe the start of the trashy show biz magazine gossip we get now !
It almost goes without saying (which is probably why it hasn't been said!) that the best-known passenger today is Margaret ('Molly') Brown, and there are several books about her life. There is a biography also of bandleader Wallace Hartley, who achieved a considerable degree of celebrity status after his death and was technically a 2nd Class passenger. A representative of the non-celebs is 3rd Class survivor Frank Goldsmith, who wrote a brief autobiography Echoes in the Night.
Miles, J J and Madeleine certainly made the papers, but you would need to be able to dig around in American libraries to find contemporary stories, especially those of the scandalous kind. Only quality papers like The Washington Post and The New York Times are readily available outside the US.
In the context of the Astor family, J J was a minor figure, especially when compared with the founder of the dynasty, the original J J. He owned most of Manhattan Island and is said to have regretted not acquiring all of it while he had the chance.
As to wealth, the 1912 J J was worth about $100m US, which is in the same ballpark as Bill Gates today.
And that, of course, was at a time when S100,000,000 was a lot of money! To the average man on the street the Titanic itself was an object of almost unimaginable value, but JJ's fortune was enough to buy the ship and 12 more like her. He was, as we say, not short of a few bob. These days, Bill Gates could buy the QM2 and 40 more like her.
A correction to Dave’s claim that Discretions and Indiscretions by Lady Duff Gordon is an extremely scarce title. It really isn’t, at least not the U.S. edition. I have two copies myself and used to have three, only one of which I paid a big sum for. And many libraries have the book. It’s by no means truly "rare," as it was a bestseller in 1932, selected by Publishers Weekly as Book of the Month for October of that year. It went into at least six editions and was still in print at the time of her death three years later.
Lastly, the Library of Congress most definitely has copies of the book, records of which are available in the LOC online catalog. The library holds copies of the U.S. and British editions as well as microfilm copies.
Technically, Dave and Randy are both right about the scarcity of Duff-Gordon's autobiography. As Randy pointed out, during her time, the book went through many printings - so in theory there should be a large number of copies out there.
On the other hand, I follow the used book sites closely, and the reality is that a copy of the book only pops up a few times a year, on average. Where all those used copies are is anyone's guess, but in modern times, it is not an easy title to find.
Talking about fashion designers in 1912 I am often surprised by how ahead of time some of the creations look - to me anyway ! I'm always seeing pictures of women from this era whether it's in period newspaper adverts or magazines and the designs ( if I were asked ) I'd have said were from the 1920's. For example I always thought the strap round the head with long feather in the middle was classic 20's night wear. But there are fashion pictures taken in 1911 and before with this look - and the women seem to be wearing a lot of make up than I would have thought. Maybe this is for the camera and it had not yet caught on ? Again I did not think women begain painting their nails or wore lipstick until the 1920's although make up has been around since the year dot. When did all this catch on ? It's interesting. Changing the subject I think Charlie Chaplin did his first film in 1913/14 - again much more early than I would have guessed. Kate seems to be wearing quite modern looking high heels shoes in Titanic - of course this is just a film with mistakes and she has to look sexy - but would not be surprised if shoes like that were quite common ?
Yes! I seem to be finding the "gilded age" period as you put it as interesting as the Titanic ( almost )) Always being surprised with just how much more advanced they were than the little brain had thought before. I will have a look for the Gilded Age topic, or has it not already began ?
Wallace' s bio should be first on the most in depth biographies list. it's a book called A Hymn For Eternity, by Yvonne Carroll. I must warn you that book is scarce to find but luckily i was able to purchase one from England.
I don't know if anyone is aware but I've just heard Brian Ticehurst has just released the 25th reprint of his book, 'Titanic Memorials World-wide Where They Are Located.' It details over a thousand memorials in 34 countries. His e-mail address is: [email protected]
At the time of the sinking, the two most famous passengers aboard the 'Titanic' were actually Lady Duff Gordon and William T. Stead. Had they missed the boat, they would still be remembered and written about today.
Lucile is best served by our very own Randy Bryan Bigham - when his biography finally makes it to print (and it is long over-due!), it will certainly be the seminal work on her life, times and career. 'The It Girls' by Meredith Etherington-Smith and Jeremy Pilcher is a dual biography of Lucy and her sister, the novelist Elinor Glyn, and is extremely well-written and informative, although I feel that Glyn is awarded coverage at Lucy's expense. There are several other books on Glyn herself and these might come in handy when trying to obtain details about the Sutherland family and the sisters' relationship to one another. Lucy's own memoirs, 'Discretions and Indiscretions', are truly enchanting but it is now hard to find a cheap copy on sale. I read them at the Bod in Oxford but I've never seen them elsewhere - and not for want of looking!
Be that as it may, in recent years Lucile has received greater attention and acclaim from costume historians and resumes of her career can be found in any good book on period fashion and society.
It occurs to me that Randy has already published a life of Dorothy Gibson, entitled 'Finding Dorothy', which looks wonderful, although I think that it may have had a limited print run.
A biography of Stead (called, I believe, 'Stead: The Man') was published - possibly privately - in 1914. I'd need to check the name of the author but it is cited by Don Lynch in the bibliography to his 'Illustrated History'. Stead also gets quite a lot of coverage in Barbara Tuchman's superb 'Proud Tower' which can be easily obtained second-hand on Amazon or in libraries. And not so long ago, I came across a compilation of articles actually WRITTEN by Stead in the 1890s and 1900s - I seem to recall that they were a series of profiles of the 'great men' of that time. Any serious work dealing with prostitution or social reform in the late Victorian Era will undoubtedly reference Stead and his crusading work in those areas. There was even a Channel 4 documentary devoted solely to Stead about four years ago!
Benjamin Guggenheim's daughter, Peggy, was a legendary figure on the twentieth-century arts scene in both Europe and the States and many biographies have been written about her. Information on her parentage and early life can naturally be found in any of them. If memory serves, there is also a book called 'The Guggenheims: An American Epic' which chronicles of the history of this exceptional family.
Back in 1912, the Astors were the American equivalent of royalty, proverbial for their wealth and grandeur, and numerous books have been published about them. Just have a root around in your local library or second-hand book shop. The Colonel was a fascinating figure in his own right but his mother, THE Mrs Astor, was a social giantess and she tended to dwarf all her descendants!
The Wideners would surely feature in books about the super-rich of the Gilded Age, particularly in their hometown, Philadelphia. Presumably, these are far easier to obtain on the other side of the pond than here in England. I'm not aware of any specific titles but there MUST be books about American tennis, which might reference Karl Behr, and also about the history of shopping and retail, which would chronicle the career of Isidor Straus at Macy's.
Of course I agree that Lucile's Autobiography is a must-read , if you can find a copy.They actually had one in a local library, which was quickly put in a locked cupboard when I told them how much it costs to buy. It forms much of what is in The'It' Girls, which has some quite interesting extra information, though I would agree there is way too much about Elinor Glyn, who i do not warm to at all. You have to be a bit careful though as some of the information in it is wrong. I have a wonderful little tape I bought years ago, of several survivors being interviewed at various times over the last 100yrs, and to me, their own words, in their own voices is unbeatable. I also think children respond to it in an amazing way, that they don't when reading an account.
I see this thread was first started in 2004, I am really surprised that no one has mentioned Judith Gellars: Titanic Women and Children First. I think this is one of the first true biographies on passengers from all classes aboard the Titanic. Lots of great photo and stories. It's one of my favorites.
I'd agree that 'Women and Children First' is a good starting point for those interested in the lives of 'Titanic' passengers, particularly those about whom little else has been written. But I'd also urge extreme caution. Gellar's research is in places extremely creaky and some of the biographical information is just plain wrong. The most glaring error is the photograph of Madeleine Astor which is not actually of Madeleine Astor at all, but of the Colonel's first wife, Ava Willing!