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Lunch with Marconi's daughter reveals Titanic anecdote

On April 11, 1989, after attending a Church near the Vatican, my wife and I were invited by Degna Marconi to have lunch with her at her home in Rome. Degna was the first child of Guglielmo Marconi and Beatrice O’Brien, the daughter of the Irish Baron Inchiquin. During our simple, but exquisite repast, served with grace by this elegant lady, our conversation turned to a little known moment of history related to the sinking of the Titanic.
Degna told us that, when she was a small child, she, her mother and her baby brother, Guilio, frequently visited a rented English property known as Eaglehurst at Fawley, which overlooked the Southampton Water. The rambling eighteenth century house had a three story tower at the water’s edge.

Guglielmo and Beatrice were invited by the White Star Line to be guests on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, but their plans were upset by certain unavoidable responsibilities which encumbered Guglielmo, who switched his passage to New York on the Lusitania, three days before the sailing of the Titanic. Beatrice was to follow on the Titanic. However, little Guilio became ill with a fever and Beatrice postponed her trip on the magnificent, but fatal ship.

On April 10, 1912, Degna and her mother climbed the tower to watch the Titanic sail by. They exchanged waves with passengers and then slowly descended the tower steps. Sadly, Beatrice tightly held Degna’s hand, wishing that she was on board. As the news about the disaster unfolded the sadness remained, but she was grateful to be safe. The Marconi family was still intact.

Marconi heard the news about a possible disaster at sea just as he arrived in New York. There were many mixed messages about what happened. Apparently the New York Evening Star reported that everyone was saved and the ship was being towed to Halifax. Another report said that the Virginian had passed a line to the Titanic after the passengers had been transferred. The truth wasn’t reported until about 7 o’clock pm the day after the accident.
The full story began to unfold when the Carpathia listed the names of survivors and later sailed up New York Harbor.

Our lunch with Degna ended and she gave us a signed copy of her book, “My Father, Marconi”.

This information is confirmed by referring to Chapter Five of Degna’s book. The book is a well written account of Guglielmo Marconi’s complicated life and its effect on his dear family. The book also provides an account of the part played by Marconi’s wireless radio in the Titanic story, and how it changed the subsequent safety procedures in world shipping.

Dr. Robert T. Cheatham

Related Biographies:

Guglielmo Marconi


Dr. Robert T. Cheatham


Encyclopedia Titanica (2012) Lunch with Marconi's daughter reveals Titanic anecdote ( ref: #20142, published 22 April 2012, generated 26th January 2021 05:20:02 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/lunch-with-marconis-daughter-reveals-titanic-anecdote.html