Account of a young woman who survived the sinking of the Titanic

ff9823020c4c21c496e673e9e1706bab--titanic-passportFound in the memoir Chords of Remembrance by Mathilde Verne. (Hutchinson, 1936)  this account by a young woman  who survived the sinking of the Titanic.

Mathilde Verne  1865 – 1936  was an English pianist and teacher, her pupil

Geoorgette Alexandra Madill (Mattei) 1896- 1974  survived the Titanic and told Ms Verne about
it over lunch in 1922. The book is rare and this account is not recorded (so far!) on the web…


“I remember it as if it were yesterday,” said Georgette, when we were lunching at the Embassy Club (the last place in the world to talk of tragedy.) I really don’t know what first brought up the subject, but I gradually became so absorbed in the story that the bright crowd around me vanished and in its place, I saw a sinking ship, plunging to her doom in the pitch black darkness and I almost fancied that I heard the ice tapping against the sides of the boat with shelter Georgette and her family.

“I was sharing a cabin on the deck with my cousin,” she continued, “and, as it was very cold, I went to bed early. About midnight I was suddenly awakened by two totally the dissimilar noises – one something like the tiering of calico – the other the sound of escaping steam.

“The next moment the engine stopped and, to my great relief, mother came into the cabin and rang the bell to ascertain what it happened.
“The steward appeared, as ever, efficient and unperturbed, and in reply to mothers anxious questioning he said: “Well, madam, I really can’t say what is wrong, but as there are no orders to go on deck, you had better remain where you are.”

“This was reassuring but after a little while our maid came up from her cabin, and in agitated tones, informed us that there was water in the baggage room.

“‘There’s nothing to be alarmed at,’ said mother, ‘go back to bed and get off to sleep.’ But mother was not so confident as she appeared, and as we sat wondering what on earth the noises had meant, the maid rushed back… this time making no attempt to hide her terror.

“‘My cabin is flooded out – I can’t stay there a minute longer,’ she cried. Continue reading

The fate of the Sangorski Omar 2

The second and last part of an article on Sangorski's  ill-fated Omar Khayyam binding. It was found in Piccadilly Notes: an occasional  publication devoted to books, engravings and autographs (1929).   A contemporary eyewitness account talks of Sangorski's Omar with its 'gold leaf blazing and the light flashing from hundreds of gemstones studding the tails of the peacocks on the cover..' Less commonly known is  the odious role played by New York customs officials in the affair and that the magnificent book was, in fact, making its second trip across the Atlantic when it was lost forever beneath the waves. J.H. Stonehouse writes:

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The fate of the Sangorski Omar 1

The Great Omar*
Found in an offprint from Piccadilly Notes (circa 1930) this article about (possibly) the most lavish binding the world had ever seen. The magazine billed itself as 'an occasional  publication devoted to books, engravings and autographs.' it was edited by J.H. Stonehouse and this article is by him…

It was in 1907 that I first met Sangorski, when he brought a letter of introduction from a church dignitary, and asked to be allowed to show me a lectern bible which the Archbishop of Canterbury had commissioned his firm to bind, previous to its presentation by King Edward VII to the United States in commemoration of the tercentenary of the established church in America. I recognised at once the justice of his contention that there was something more in the design and execution of the work than was usually to be found in an ordinary piece of commercial binding and that the appreciation of it which had been expressed in the press was fully justified.

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An unpublished Titanic poem (May 1912)

Found among a lot of miscellaneous papers, some religious - this poem by one William Allen about the Titanic disaster. It is dated May 1912, one month after the tragedy. The name William Allen is associated with the Titanic because it was the name of the father of one of the survivors, Ada E. Hall. The family was from Hackney, London and Ada was emigrating to America (along with her brother in law the Reverend Bateman who drowned*). She is in the Encyclopedia Titanica and in a lengthy article on her in the  Baltimore Sun it states: "Nearer My God to Thee" was the last song Ada heard from the band that was playing on the deck of the RMS Titanic after she boarded a lifeboat and was lowered to the waters below." This hymn is mentioned in the poem and there are a few details that may have come from an eyewitness (i.e. his daughter) rather than from press reports. William Allen is a common name so none of this is conclusive. The poem is heartfelt, competent and deeply religious:

T'was the eve of the day of rest
That the mighty Leviathan
Ploughed her way through the ocean's
Sleeping breast.

List  to the throb of her stately tread
Mark her proportions
From anchor to lofty head
Its harmony sublime.

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Royal Charter wreck – the gold ring on the beach

This poem about the Royal Charter disaster is printed at the back of An  Authentic Account if the Wreck of the Royal Charter Sream Clipper on her passage from Australia to Liverpool , October 26th 1859 with an Interesting Additoion of Subsequent  Events and Incidents Written During a Residence at Moelfra, the Scene of the Catastrophe (Dublin 1860.) The poem was inspired by an account of the finding of a gold ring on the beach at Moelfra  'by one of the peasants living in the vicinity of the wreck.'  With help from the local vicar the ring was restored to the father of the drowned owner - a Mr. Corry Fowler of Dublin. The ring had been worn by his son in memory of his departed sister whose name was inscribed on it. The poem is by a niece.

Lines on a Ring cast on shore five months after the wreck of the Royal Charter.

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‘Lines on the Loss of the Royal Charter’

At least 800 lives were lost in the seas around the shores of Britain in the violent storms on the night of 25-26 October 1859. 223 vessels were wrecked: the biggest disaster of all was the loss of the Royal Charter off the coast of Wales, in which almost 450 people died. The ship was returning from Australia and the passengers included many gold miners, some of who had struck it rich at the diggings in Australia and were carrying large sums of gold about their persons. A consignment of gold was also being carried as cargo; it was insured for over £300,000 - about half a billion pounds in todays money. Many of the passengers were killed by being dashed against the rocks by the waves rather than drowned. Others were said to have drowned, weighed down by the belts of gold they were wearing around their bodies. The survivors, 21 passengers and 18 crew members, were all men, with no women or children saved. This poem on one side of a small  card was probably sold for a halfpenny or farthing just after the disaster. The address 'Trafalgar, Neyland' is nearby in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire. Of Maria Roberts nothing is known…

We also have a more accomplished poem about a gold ring washed up on the beach (to follow) but this poem was probably composed very shortly after the fateful night:

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Titanic Sheet Music

Found among a pile of sheet music 3 Titanic items. They incorporate several mythic (but not necessarily untrue) stories around the disaster-- Captain Smith is said to have spoken the words 'Be British'  (possibly his last) to his men and the 8 members of the ship's band carried on playing as the ship sank (possibly there last number was Nearer My God to Thee.) Some accounts say that the band played on until they were waist high in water. The sheet music for Be British came with a set of illustrative coloured lantern slides that could be bought or hired from the publisher. The lyrics include these lines, worthy of poet laureate Alfred Austin himself:

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W. T. Stead – a message from the Titanic & the after-life

Found - a rare booklet published in Melbourne, Australia circa 1913 -What Life in the Spirit World Really is. Being messages received from beyond the veil by Annie Bright. It is purportedly by the great newspaperman W.T. Stead (1849 - 1912) who had drowned in the 1912 Titanic disaster. It was  in fact 'channelled' from Stead by one Annie Bright. Stead numbered spiritualism among his many interests and as well as editing The Pall Mall Gazette (which became the Evening Standard) he also edited the occult quarterly Borderland. He is said to be the first 'investigative journalist' and campaigned against child prostitution and the London slums. He befriended the feminist Josephine Butler and joined a campaign with her to successfully repeal the Contagious Diseases Act. He was an early Esperantist and he is also the father of modern paperback publishing and even 'digest' publishing, issuing severely abridged versions of the classics. Wikipedia has this to say of his last moments on the Titanic:

After the ship struck the iceberg, Stead helped several women and children into the lifeboats, in an act "typical of his generosity, courage, and humanity", and gave his life jacket to another passenger.
A later sighting of Stead, by survivor Philip Mock, has him clinging to a raft with John Jacob Astor IV. "Their feet became frozen," reported Mock, "and they were compelled to release their hold. Both were drowned." William Stead's body was not recovered. Further tragedy was added by the widely held belief that he was due to be awarded the Nobel Peace that same year.

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