Encyclopedia Titanica

Henriette Virginie Yvois

Henriette Yvois

Henriette Virginie Williem Yvois was born in Paris, France on 22 April 1889.

She was the daughter of Modest Henry Theobad Yvois (b. 1860), a restaurant worker originally from Vézannes, Yonne, and Maria Ann Williem (b. 1867), a florist from Brussels, Belgium.

Her parents married after her birth in 1891 and she had a younger brother, René Émil Henri (1891-1952).

Henriette, a model, lived at 5 Rue des Pyramides Paris. She boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 248747, which cost £13) and it appears that she travelled together with the film maker William H. Harbeck (ticket number 248746); there is speculation that they were lovers but there may be a more innocent explanation. It would appear that they were the couple observed playing cards for much of the journey by Lawrence Beesley.

"In the opposite corner are the young American kinematograph photographer and his young wife, evidently French, very fond of playing patience, which she is doing now, while he sits back in his chair watching the game and interposing from time to time with suggestions. I did not see them again."

Henriette Yvois died in the sinking and her body, if recovered, was never identified. Harbeck, who also perished, later had his body recovered from the ocean and among his possessions was a lady's purse which was later identified as belonging to Miss Yvois.


1. There is disagreement over the spelling of her name. When "Brownie Harbeck" identified the purse found with the body of William Harbeck she told officials it belonged to Henriette Yvois; another source spells it "Yrois".
2. What is the evidence for the suggestion that Yrois was Harbeck's mistress? i. The closeness of the ticket numbers.
ii. Beesley's observations of a man and his "wife". Presumably Beesley assumed that a man an unmarried young woman would not be unchaperoned and concluded from their behaviour that they were married.
iii. The fact that Yrois' purse was identified with Harbeck's body, although how "Brownie Harbeck" knew this remains a mystery.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Miss Henriette Virginie Yvois
Age: 22 years 11 months and 23 days (Female)
Nationality: French
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: in Paris, France
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 248747, £13
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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William H. Harbeck

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References and Sources

Portrait from a recent auction sale (thesaleroom.com)

Research Articles

John Lamoreau Titanica! (2007) The Strange Mysteries of Movie Maker William Harbeck
Peter Engberg-Klarström Titanica! (2018) Lost Ladies
Who were they and why did they die?


Henriette Virginie Yvois

Documents and Certificates

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912, National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]).
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage, PRO London, BT 100/259-260


John Lamoreau Confusion Over a Name: Yrois or Yvois
Lawrence Beesley The Loss of the SS Titanic
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Comment and discuss

  1. Allison Jirsa

    Allison Jirsa said:

    Hello everyone, I have a quick question about a second class passenger, a young French woman named Henriette Yrois. Everything I've ever seen about her has said she died in the sinking, including the biography on ET. But on the new summary page, she's listed as a survivor. It says that she got to New York, but died on April 15, 1912. Here's the link to that page: Can anybody shed some light on this? Did she die in the water, or did she make it to the Carpathia only to... Read full post

  2. Philip Hind

    Philip Hind said:

    Database problem, now fixed. She did die.

  3. Allison Jirsa

    Allison Jirsa said:

    Thanks! I figured it was something like that, but I wanted to be sure. Allison

  4. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey said:

    Hallo, Allison, and welcome to ET. I can't offer any further information on these two passengers, but if you haven't already done so I urge you to read Lawrence Beesley's book (you'll find him linked from Henriette's biog page). This does contain a very brief reference (probably) to the couple in question but its main value is as an excellent account of the sinking and of life aboard in Second Class, written by a skilled and accurate observer who was actually there.

  5. Allison Jirsa

    Allison Jirsa said:

    Bob, Yes, I've read Beesley's account, which is actually where I initially got the idea to use the couple. I've devoured every book I can get my hands on during my research, but those two just aren't mentioned anywhere else that I can find. I found a bio about Harbeck on an Colorado website, but it doesn't mention Henriette. It focused mostly on his career. There's been some question as to their relationship, so until I find anything saying for certain otherwise, I'm writing them as being romantically involved. I do have another question, though: since they did not board as a... Read full post

  6. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey said:

    Allison, you are quite right about the rooming arrangements - no way would an unmarried couple be allowed to officially share a cabin. But I'd say that the only safe way to include them in a work of fiction is to maintain the mystery surrounding their relationship. Other novels, notably Beryl Bainbridge's 'Every Man for Himself' have made use of real cast members in the Titanic drama, but only in cameo roles and safely within the boundaries of known behavioural and character traits. Probably the best known real passenger in second Class is of course Lawrence Beesley himself, but there... Read full post

  7. Allison Jirsa

    Allison Jirsa said:

    Bob, thanks for the advice. I haven't read the Geller book yet, though it has been on my list of to-reads for a while now. As for Henriette and William, I've gotten sort of attached to them by now (the first draft of my book is already completed), but I did make sure to leave them a bit mysterious. Although Henriette interacts with my main character, she doesn't discuss her realionship with William. I did, though, place Kate Buss and Dr. Moraweck at the same table as my heroine. Again, though, aside from casual dinner conversation and the mention of her being engaged, I've left her... Read full post

  8. tom blackburn

    tom blackburn said:

    I have searched the Titanic passenger lists and Henriette Yrois does not appear to be on the list. Is she listed as a different person with another name? Mlle. Henriette Yrois . It woulds appear that they were the couple observed playing cards for much of the journey by... Read full post

  9. Mark Baber

    Mark Baber said:

    Hello, Tom--- Try "Yvois" rather than "Yrois." Actually, scratch that suggestion. I read your message as referring to the ET passenger list, but since you've quoted her ET biography in your message, you seem to have found that already. If not the ET list, what lists are you referring to?

  10. John Lamoreau

    John Lamoreau said:

    I believe I have solved the puzzle over the spelling of Henriette YROIS, who was a second class passenger. There has been confusion over the spelling when a Brownie Harbeck sent a letter identifying the purse found in William Harbeck’s possession. Brownie stated the purse belonged to Henriette YVOIS. Based on the handwriting of Brownie Harbeck I don't believe she ever thought the spelling of the last name of Henriette was "YVOIS". People have assumed she spelled it with a "V" rather than a "R". I have worked with older adults most of my life. Her handwriting appears to be that of an... Read full post

  11. John Lamoreau

    John Lamoreau said:

    Hello Trevor, you can view the letter and other wonderful documents at the Nova Scotia Public Archives. Use this link to Brownie's letter: Let me know if you have trouble opening it. Sincerely, John Lamoreau

  12. Trevor Powell

    Trevor Powell said:

    Hi John, Thank you for the information. Actually, just after posting I located the archives which is why I deleted my inquiry. I found your article regarding the spelling of Yrois/Yvois to be a very likely candidate as to the confusion over the spelling. Good observation.

  13. Roy Kristiansen

    Roy Kristiansen said:

    Hi, Trevor! John and I have had a discussion over this. Please excuse me for hedging, but there's still no clear-cut answer. The confusion re: Mlle. Yvois/Yrois' spelling seems to have originated with the Titanic's passenger list as it was printed in the newspapers following the disaster. There were many misspellings in those lists. Our lady in question was first identified as "Miss H. Yodis" - then as "Miss H. Yrois." William Harbeck was identified variously as "Herbeck" and "Hambeck," so I think you can see the problem. The only definitive personal identification came from... Read full post

  14. John Lamoreau

    John Lamoreau said:

    Roy and Trevor, I posted my article before I met Roy. I had some others who were agreeing with me. But I will defer to Roy. His arguments make a lot of sense and I do not know of a more respected person concerning Harbeck. He is the pro on this subject. I am a self admitted rookie! Best wishes, John

  15. Roy Kristiansen

    Roy Kristiansen said:

    Aw, heck, John - We're all rookies at some point . . . '-) Roy

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