What started it all

I got interested when Ballard found the wreck. I bought every magazine I could find (on a 10-year-old's budget) and watched every documentary I could. Before that I had seen SOS Titanic. But the discovery of the wreck made me want more. A rewatch of SOS Titanic (the original full version) led to A Night to Remember which led to Titanic 53 which led to Ballard's book (something like "How I Did It"), etc. etc.
Feb 14, 2011
The amazing thing about ET is that we come from many nations and ideologies- but we share one common thing- an undeniable fascination with the story of the Titanic.....
For many people, fascination with the Titanic is far more than mere intellectual curiosity- it becomes part of your identity-
I've been hooked on the Titanic since I was 10 (1978)- I *think* because I caught 'A Night To Remember' on tv late one night. In 1979 when 'Sos Titanic' was aired on tv, my Titanic obsession was solidfied....
I was the only Titanic buff I knew about- I didn't learn about the THS until 1983, and it was then I discovered there were others who shared my obsession with the great ship....
My obsession with the Titanic has always been there..sometimes it fades a bit, then comes back in full force....

Im curious- how long have you all been interested in the Titanic? What got you hooked? Did you have friends or classmates who were also Titanic buffs, or did you languish as the only Titanic buff in your community?
Did your family and friends support your Titanic interest?
If you are married, what does your spouse think of your Titanic obsession? There aren't too many married couples out there where both people are equally interested in the Titanic...

My family and friends supported my Titanic passion- in high school i was voted 'Most likley to find the Titanic' (though she had been found 2 years earlier). I read adult level books at a very young age,and that thrilled my parents- but some teachers tried to discourage the interest, insisting the Titanic was too morbid a subject to study......


tarn Stephanos
Dec 2, 2000
Easley South Carolina
The first I ever even heard of it was when I saw that 1953 flick with Barbera Stanwyck and Clifton Webb, but what caught my attention and kept is was reading A Night To Remember when I was 8 years old. I don't know why it was on a grade school bookshelf, but there it was.

Dave Gittins

Apr 11, 2001
I first met Titanic in a junk shop in about 1950, maybe earlier. There was a coloured print of the ship and my mother briefly told me the story.

What really got me going was the discovery of the wreck. Out came the plotting charts and parallel ruler. The rest is history.

Ernie Luck

Nov 24, 2004
We could make this a competition - who heard of it first. It must have been in the 1940's when I remember my father telling me about it, I can almost remember the very words. "The iron ship they thought was unsinkable and the band played on as it sank". My family came from Southampton - my father was born 1907, so I suppose it was always to the fore in his early memories.

ANTR was a regular TV repeat so it was resurrected again then but my real interest started about 5 years ago when I stumbled over some relatives of Capt. Smith whilst doing genealogy research into a famous pottery family. They were cousins of E.J., descended from his Uncle George. More recently another cousin, Norma Williamson, also a descendant of George Smith has posted to this site.

I never saw Cameron's 'Titanic' movie till about 3 years ago, so this was not the source of my interest. I bet 75% of the people currently involved on this site were introduced to the topic by that film; however much it is criticised, it leaves an indelible imprint.
Dec 29, 2006
I was on holiday in Great Yarmouth with my parents and saw an unusual jig-saw puzzle in a toy shop window. It depicted a an old-fashioned ocean liner with four huge funnels, which was sinking by the bow with her stern raised high in the air. British children read stories about talking locomotives, etc., which engenders an idea that inanimate objects such as ships are, in some way, "alive". I felt so sorry for the poor, sinking ship and wanted to know the full story. A few months later I saw A Night to Remember in the cinema, and have been interested in the Titanic ever since.

Doni McLerran

What a great post!

I'd heard about the Titanic since childhood, of course, but didn't really care one way or another about it until Ballard found the wreckage in 1985 (I was 21 at the time). Up until then we just figured it was never going to be found, like something that had disappeared into a bottomless pit or something. My sister had read Walter Lord's A Night to Remember (she'd always been a fan of Margaret "Molly" Brown). Somewhere along the way I read Lord's book too, and got a bit more interested.

Then life got in the way. My mom got sick and died, then my dad got sick and died, and eventually I moved to the big city, changed jobs several times, and spent a lot of time in church. Ironically this was about the time that Cameron's movie was released, and I think I was the only one that didn't bother seeing it.

But in recent years, I drifted back in, thanks in part to seeing "Lost Liners" on PBS, and thanks in part to getting interested in the story of Father Byles, who had become one of my spiritual heroes. So I began reading up on the Titanic again. (BTW, last New Year's Eve, I FINALLY saw Cameron's 1997 Titanic movie.)

In just the last few months I have begun to branch out and examine other areas of the Titanic story. It's sort of like spending all this time in a second-class cabin, and finally deciding to go out and explore the rest of the ship. Lately, I have developed an appreciation for the officers (Smith, Wilde, Murdoch, Lightoller, etc....) and the Marconi operators Phillips and Bride.

Now I'm reading other Titanic books (right now am reading the American Inquiry). I joined ET in February, but didn't post for the first time until just 2-3 weeks ago. My most knowledgable area is still Byles, since he's my main interest. But it's been good to meet others who love the Titanic and share a passion for research and knowledge of this great ship.
Feb 14, 2011
Another moment that solidified my interest in Titanic was a when I was in 5th grade-I found a copy of Richard Boning's 1974 childrens's book 'Titanic' at school- the dramatic drawing on the cover of a sinking Titanic, with stern high in the air, prompted me to spend countless hours drawing similar scenes-Im sure after that point, most of my school work had a doodled sinking Titanic in the margins..
Apr 30, 2007
I always had a passing interest in the Titanic but no more or less than on any other high profile historical event. When I met my ex wife in 1988 she mentioned that a family member "should have been on the Titanic" but its significance didn't register at the time.

That changed this year when I noticed on this very site the family name (W Burrows) in the list of discharged crew. In time I hope to check it out.

I then started reading the various threads not realising that there was so much that was known and yet so many areas of contention.

What makes the subject so compelling for me is that enough key witnesses survived (4 officers, Fleet, Bride, Ismay etc) to compile a fair percentage of the Jigsaw but not enough to complete it leaving an interesting balance between fact and speculation.

Timothy Trower

Although I remember watching the 1953 movie Titanic during the early 1970s, my interest began when I was in eighth grade. My junior high school librarian, a lady named Martha Corgan, was in the habit of recommending various books and authors to me, and she one day pulled a book off a shelf and handed it to me, explaining that it was the story of a huge ship that struck an iceberg and killed a lot of people. That was, of course, ANTR.

I casually flipped through the pages, paying attention only in the picture section, then, when Mrs. Corgan's attention was drawn elsewhere, I popped it back onto the shelf. Big deal. A sinking ship. Wow.

However, a couple of weeks passed. I had instead pulled a copy of a book on trolley cars off the shelf, and when I checked it back in I decided that I wanted to take just one more look at the picture section of ANTR. Big problem. I didn't know the name of the book, the author, the Dewey decimal code or even the location of the shelf. Hat in hand, so to speak, I found Mrs. Corgan, briefly explained what I was looking for, and stood back while she walked to the exact location of the book and handed it to me.

I checked out the book for the rest of the year.

In high school, I also developed a pattern. The first day of the year, I checked out a copy of ANTR and on the last day of school I would check it back in. (I did get special permission to do this; it helped that the school had two copies.) I literally wore that book out, but carried it with me daily, reading and rereading page after page.

I found out about the THS through a newspaper interview with then-president Robert Gibbons, and found that he lived in my home town. Joined in 1978, and my interest has never waned since then.

Bob Gibbons again lives in Springfield, and, a little connectivity -- he had been the last person, some 15 years earlier, to check out that high school copy of ANTR; that same copy that I wore out.

One other thing. For some twenty years, I've been giving talks and lectures on the Titanic. During the intro to nearly every talk, I've related the story of how I was introduced to the Titanic by my junior high school librarian. About ten years ago, I got the chance to meet her again and related to her "the rest of the story." For a now elderly lady in retirement, it made her day ... and for some reason, mine as well.
Dec 2, 2000
Easley South Carolina
>>We could make this a competition - who heard of it first.<<

Or perhaps how old they were at the time. I may have been six when I caught a glimpse of the 1953 flick but it was two years later when I read ANTR.

While I managed to pick up the odd bok on the subject on occasion, it wasn't until 1999 that I was able to really look into it and try to work out the history behind the legend. That was about the time I retired from the Navy.

Miranda Martin

I heard of the Titanic when I was SO young that I can´t even remember! I wasn´t really interested in it till about a year ago, when I saw the James Cameron movie, but I did write a few stories about the Titanic when I was around eight years old.
Sep 26, 2009
My interest in the Titanic was whetted by a book and a bubble gum card. First was the book "Man Conquers the World With Science" which has the story of the New York Times coverage of the Titanic with a drawing of the ship sinking. The second was a Scoop bubble gum card "Sinking of the Titanic" with a green-hulled Titanic. Both the book and bubble gum card came into my life before the 1953 movie Titanic. But when I saw the ship sinking on the big screen, I was hooked on the Titanic for the rest of my life. Tim Trower mentioned ANTR. My grandmother and I walked down to the local bookstore in December, 1955 after I had seen an original copy of "Sinking of the Titanic" in my junior high library, and we wanted to see if the 1912 book was still available (it wasn't!)but the nice clerk in the bookstore showed me a brand new book that just came out--ANTR by Walter Lord. I got that book for Christmas in 1955. Now you know "the rest of the story"! Robert H. Gibbons

Mike Poirier

Dec 31, 2004
The first time I remember hearing about Titanic, was when I was about 6 and ANTR was re-run on tv. Then I ended up getting the book about two years later. Who wouldn't be hooked? By then, I realized there was a Titanic survivor in my own back yard- Marshall Drew. Unfortunately, he passed away soon after.

While doing research at the Westerly library, the reference lady put me in touch with a local researcher who had given many lectures on the subject- Shelley Dziedzic. It was clear from the first phone call that Shelley was good at putting kids at ease. (well not hard for her since she was a Mom and a teacher). Soon, she introduced me to a host of people who also encouraged young people with their interests; Mike Findlay, Charlie Haas, Jack Eaton, etc..
I look back through my files and see the letters and the information they sent (accounts, pictures). It is amazing how much people shared back then. Through Shelley and Mike I got to meet numerous survivors like Marjorie Robb, Frank Aks, Louise Pope, Michel Navratil. I continue to meet people who encourage people to learn, like Joe Carvalho (a co-founder of Titanic Historical Society). It is amazing to listen to them to see how people's interest in Titanic began and where it has taken them.

I encourage anyone interested in Titanic to join any society they can. When you join these societies you are supporting the Titanic and the stories that went into the only voyage.
Aug 2, 2006
The first time I recall hearing about the Titanic was when the James Cameron movie came out. I was six years old at the time and I asked my brother what it was about he told me it was about a ship that sank on its way from England to New York and a lot of famous people died. Then I forgot about it for a while but when I was in first and second I would keep writing stories about dying on a big ship while it was sinking. Then two years ago I saw the movie again and started searching on Internet for more information and one thing kept leading to another and here I am today. My family has always supported the interest but at times gets mad at me for bringing it up “all the time” in their opinion.

[Moderator's Note: This message and the 13 immediately above it, originally a separate thread, have been moved to this pre-existing thread addressing the same subject. MAB}
Dec 31, 2000
Pinson, AL
I first discovered the Titanic when I was eight years old and came across Ballard's book on the discovery of the wreck (I will assume it was the kids' version) in my school library. I can remember sitting in front of the shelves there reading it. From that point on my interest in the Titanic simmered until James Cameron's movie was released, and then it came back full force and hasn't dulled since.

My parents (or my mother, at least) have always supported my interest in the Titanic, and both my mother and my twin sister have developed a habit of buying any Titanic-related book they see if they think I don't already have it. I know my sister understands my obsession, but I think the rest of my family and friends regard it as something of a quaint little hobby. I'm not entirely sure what my husband thinks, but he knows it makes me happy, so he can't complain.

John Lynott

Apr 2, 2002
Addingham, Yorkshire
My first time was when as an eight-year-old I saw an extract from ANTR (final moment on the stern. A prayer...we ought to say a prayer...) on Michael Parkinson's Cinema programme on Granada TV (UK) around about 1965/66.
Somehow it gripped me and I devoured everything I could about the story.
On our yearly trips to Ireland on the old Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire passenger ferries Cambria and Hibernia, I would always check the lifeboat regulations and hope the crew would be keeping a look-out for small ice and growlers!
First book was Peter Padfield's Titanic and the Californian in 1966, I didn't manage to get hold of ANTR from the library for about four years.
Every time we had to do a project at junior school, I plumped for the Titanic, much to the amusement/derision of my classmates.
(Screen shows black and white shots of a north Manchester housing estate in 1967. Boys in short trousers and wellies, girls in alice bands and skipping ropes. Sounds of the chimes of the ice-cream van and Jimmy Clitheroe on the wireless. This was the swinging 60s, after all!)
This was in the days when municipal buildings were covered in soot, there was no internet, and no videos so you can imagine the excitement when, once every three years,ANTR was screened on TV - until September 1972!
And then ANTR disappeared from the TV schedules completely, not reappearing until 1980 and even then I had to dash from a uni lecture to catch the last ten minutes (...you've done your duty, I release you both, God bless you...)
First video bought was ANTR - the uncut original Rank version in 1983 - complete with dead baby scene - it was Betamax and cost £49.99 (roughly $100!) from Virgin in Oxford Street, London.
First Titanic story - as a reporter on the Enfield Gazette I interviewed Doug Woolley (sp?)who lived in nearby Edmonton. It was in October 1985. Ballard had just discovered the wreck and Mr Woolley was claiming he was due 'payback' as he reckoned he owned the wreck.
It made a nice feature spread (Edmonton man: Where's my Titanic pay-out?)
I later discovered that Mr Woolley has lived in quite a few UK locations and every few years unsuspecting weekly papers would produce similar 'exclusives'.
Met my first Titanic author, Dan Van Der Vat, who is a pal of my sister-in-law in London.
First touched the Titanic: July 2003 Titanic exhibition at the Science Museum in London. A sheet of the hull plating was on display and you could 'prod' it through a hole in a perspex shield.
In and amongst, my wife and I have visited Harland and Wolff in Belfast and Cobh (Queenstown) while visiting family in Ireland and in August we visit New York for the first time, when I hope to catch one or two memorials in the Big Apple.
What is the fascination? The fact that the tragedy spanned more than two-and-a-half hours, giving scope for people to make the right and wrong decisions that affected who would live and who would die. How would I have reacted in such a situation?
I could go on but I can hear the chimes of the ice-cream van and A Night to Remember is on the telly!

Jason D. Tiller

Dec 3, 2000
Niagara Falls, Ontario

If you are married, what does your spouse think of your Titanic obsession?

Well, I'm not married...yet, but I have a very supportive girlfriend who luckily enough shares my passion and interest. She does not roll her eyes at the mere mention of the great ship (in fact she saw Cameron's movie and loved it), unlike some of my friends and family who haven't always been that supportive of my obsession.

So, I consider myself very fortunate to have found a partner that actually enjoys discussing it. As Tarn said, there aren't many couples around that share an interest in the Titanic.​
Feb 14, 2011
Its in the blood....All I know is that when I was a lad of 10, back in 1978, my fascination with the Titanic was as strong then as it is today....It seems I spent all my time in school drawing sketches of a sinking Titanic in the margins of my notebook, rather than taking notes......

I wouldn't mind having a spouse who was interested in the Titanic, but I wouldnt want it to be competative.
Some Titanic buffs are very possesive about the Titanic, and feel Titanic is theirs, not to be shared...

My x-girlfriend found the Titanic to be a very boring topic- and by extension she apparently found me boring-because I always talked about the Titanic.8 (

I would much rather be in a relationship with a woman who is interested in the ship, rather than bored by the topic....


Tarn Stephanos
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA

It seems I spent all my time in school drawing sketches of a sinking Titanic in the margins of my notebook, rather than taking notes......
You must have had the same teacher that I had.


I wouldn't mind having a spouse who was interested in the Titanic.
There is interest and then there is passion.


My x-girlfriend found the Titanic to be a very boring topic- and by extension she apparently found me boring-because I always talked about the Titanic.
Tarn, there is a time and place for everything. The Titanic is not going to rise and sail away into the sunset. But girlfriends ...​

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