Wallace Hartley A Hymn For Eternity


Geoff Whitfield

Just received a new book for review by Yvonne Carroll. Contains some very nice photographs and looks very interesting indeed. It's around the $20 mark and I believe also available in the U.S.
Anyone interested can email me at:

[email protected]

and I'll send full details back.

Geoff, you'll probably be hearing from me post-Christmas when the decimation of the Oz trip on the bank balance has been assessed.

From memory, this isn't the first Hartley tome, is it? I have very little that's good to say about the previous author (he was of Gardiner's ilk), so a decent, solid bio would be most welcome. Would be interested in hearing opinions on Carroll's work.
this is the first Hartley bio, as far as I know. was there an earlier one?

Carroll's book does a credible job of filling in the history of Hartley's life, where he grew up, went to school, his work history including many of the musical groups he worked with before going into the ocean liners, etc. it is also nicely illustrated with photos of many of the important locals he was associated with.

yet the book does not give you much of an idea of who Wallace Hartley was, what made the man tick. I don't feel I know much more about what drove the man than I did before reading this book. Hartley the man remains an enigma.

I also have some issues with the author stating some concepts as fact when they are far from documented. her comment about Hartley's violin case being strapped to his body found when the body was recovered being the one that immediately springs to mind.

I would still recommend this book, as the background of the man's history is pretty solid, and I did learn a lot about the story of his life, if not about him .

am working on a full review, but that is certainly the highlights of the books strengths and weaknesses.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
Ta for the information, Mike! Should have realised you'd come through.

I can dig up the name of the chap who authored the earlier Hartley book if you like, although I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. I've never actually seen a volume, although I've read the author's description. It sounded like it was chock-full of conspiracy and sensationalism (he claimed, for example, that it was not Hartley's body that was returned - does Carroll address this issue?). I regard this particular character as one of the shadier figures in Titanic circles due to an utterly dubious and dodgy attempt to sell a postcard he identified as having been written by Harold Lowe on the most utterly flimsy and spurious of grounds, ignoring evidence to the contrary. I also saw him hole up a Titanic survivor and press her to sign item upon item for sale.

I'll be interested in your full review of Carroll's book. I can sympathise with the problems inherent in undertaking such a work - a full-scale biography of an individual who was a private rather than public figure, reknowed for one event that brought them into the public eye, is not an easy task at all. Cooper faced similar difficulties with E J Smith, and he's not the only one. It's terribly tempting to extrapolate too much from too little data, when one has little to draw on. Still, I'd be very interested in seeing how the author tackled the problem of limited sources.
Inger, I seem to recall it was Robert McDougall. I'm not usually prone to violence but.............
I believe that was the chap, Geoff. I know what you mean...I once had to leave the foyer of a hotel after seeing him in action. It was that or cause rather a scene. Not that I'm adverse to causing a scene, of course, but some of the bystanders were quite elderly and wouldn't have appreciated it!

If his 'research' on the postcard and resulting conspiracy theory are indicative, I shudder to think what his work on Hartley was like.
Inger, there is no whiff of any scandal in Carroll's book as far as Hartley's body. as a matter of fact she states that his father positively identified the body as being Hartley. seems like he would know!

nor does she offer any wild theories about the missing violin case (thank goodness!); she simply makes the statement that it was reported that the body was found with the case, that White Star was supposed to ship it home, but that it never turned up.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T

I'm Still snding you that book we talked about - my brain is of a similar capacity as that of a dead herring! I'll send it after the Christmas rush.


Hi Geoff,
no rush. I figured you would get around to it when you were ready. as far as brain capacity, you have heard the saying "a mind like a steel trap? mine is similiar, just more akin to a steel sieve! ;-)

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
I came on this book while looking for something else, as usual. It's a biography of Wallace Hartley.

The author is Yvonne Carroll. It was published by Tempus Publishing Limited of Stroud in 2002. ISBN 07524 2375 4.

The author has carefully researched Hartley's career, making use of old programs and other material from the various musical organisations he worked with. She shows how varied Hartley's career was. He was far from a mere scraper of pretty nothings.

I don't agree with some of her conclusions about Hartley's activities on Titanic, but she has provided extensive background material on Hartley and we now have a much fuller picture of him.

An important find is a letter written by Hartley from Queenstown. Hartley wrote, "This is a fine ship and there ought to be plenty of money around." This supports other evidence that the musos were not the poorly paid battlers of legend.

It's quite a small book, but well worth having.

[Moderator's Note: This message, originally posted in a separate thread, has been moved to this pre-existing one. MAB]
A Hymn for Eternity: the Story of Wallace Hartley by Yvonne Carroll
after reading the book i have nothing bad to say about it it is my favourite book of all time.