4 – Morgan Robertson’s Book Predicted the Sinking of the Titanic
The sinking of the Titanic on April 14, 1912, is one of the most written about disasters in human history. It was especially tragic because the catastrophe could have been avoided. In his novella Futility, Morgan Robertson seemingly wrote about the sinking of the giant passenger liner because of the remarkable number of similarities between the Titanic and the doomed ship in his story, the Titan. The thing is, Robertson wrote Futility 14 years before the tragedy!
At best, it is a remarkable coincidence, and at worst, it was a case of Robertson inadvertently predicting a disaster that was yet to happen. In Futility, the ship is called the Titan and was the largest vessel of its time, just like the Titanic. It was just 25 meters shorter, and like its real-life equivalent, the Titan was supposed to be unsinkable. Both ships were capable of traveling at over 20 knots an hour and they both sank after hitting an iceberg in the middle of April. Finally, both ships only carried the bare minimum number of lifeboats even though there were thousands of passengers on the ship.
Robertson dismissed any suggestion that he had psychic powers and said that he only knew about writing. According to Titanic scholar, Paul Heyer, Futility was nothing more than a series of coincidences. Robertson was an experienced sailor and correctly predicted that ships would eventually get larger. His experience also told him that there was a real danger of these behemoths striking an iceberg and sinking. I would imagine that the lack of lifeboats was nothing more than a dramatic addition to heightening the tragedy.
It almost seems as if the Titanic was destined to sink given the number of misfortunes that preceded its maiden voyage. Some people claim that the champagne bottle didn’t break at its christening while others suggest it sank because of a cursed Egyptian mummy that was on board. Another rumor said that a cat and her litter left the ship which was a sure sign of bad luck. As the ship pulled out of the harbour, it almost collided with a boat. The Cardeza family bought the most expensive suite on the ship but their maid, Anne Ward, refused to board after having a premonition that tragedy would strike.
For all the talk of curses and misfortune, it was human error that resulted in up to 1,635 deaths. As well as having a woefully inadequate number of lifeboats, the ship’s crew seemingly ignored six separate warnings about sea ice on the day of the disaster. The Titanic was traveling at close to its maximum speed when the crew spotted the iceberg. It was far too late as the ship couldn’t turn fast enough and sank remarkably quickly after striking the ice. While Robertson couldn’t predict the future, he knew well enough the propensity for shipbuilders to cut corners, and on this occasion, it was a costly blunder.