White Star Line

Titanic memorials

Darlington, County Durham

Mr W T Stead memorial stone

Amongst the many notable people whom it is feared have gone down in the ill-fated liner is Mr. W. T. Stead, who was without doubt one of the most remarkable personalities in modern journalism... As an interviewer Mr. Stead had few equals, and in some instances his practice of the art helped him to make history. ~ The Northern Echo, Darlington, 17 April 1912

In 1892 the "Review of Reviews", a journal part founded by William T Stead, carried a fictitious tale titled From the Old World to the New. The tale is the story of a clairvoyant - Stead was interested in spiritualism - aboard the White Star Line's Majestic who sensed a ship had collided with an iceberg.

In the story, the character Mrs Irwin describes what she'd witnessed. "I saw a sailing ship among the icebergs. She had been stove[d] in by the ice, and was fast sinking. The crew were crying piteously for help: it was their voices that roused me. Some of them had climbed upon the ice; others were on the sinking ship, which was drifting away as she sank. Even as I looked she settled rapidly by the bow, and went down with a plunge. The waters bubbled and foamed. I could see the heads of a few swimmers in the eddy. One after another they sank, and I saw them no more."

Later, in 1886 William Stead wrote How the Mail Steamer Went Down in Mid Atlantic, where a liner sank with insufficient numbers of lifeboats causing a great loss of life. In his story, the protagonist describes the dramatic sinking of the ship "I felt a mighty, convulsive movement; then the sea seemed to flash down on me in one mass, as if the wall of water fell from a high crag. Then I heard a humming noise in my ears, and with a gasp I was up amid a blackened, wriggling sheet of drowning creatures."

Twenty-six years after he wrote that piece first-class passenger William Stead, travelling to New York to speak at a peace congress at the request of the president William Howard Taft, found himself aboard a sinking liner. Many have expressed the opinion that his story was a premonition, or predicted the loss of the Titanic. Certainly, following his death in the sinking of the Titanic, both stories received greater prominence as a consequence.

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