Titanic tragedy still fascinates 100 years later

Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:50am EDT
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By Nick Olivari

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shipwrecks and maritime disasters have always captivated the public imagination and none more so than the luxury liner RMS Titanic, which sank on her maiden voyage one hundred years ago this year.

With the loss of 1,517 lives on April 15, 1912, three hours after the ship struck an ice berg, the real life tales of love and heroism spawned a legend and fascination which shows no sign of abating.

"TITANIC: The Tragedy That Shook the World," by the editors of LIFE at Time Home Entertainment Inc, includes photos and stories of the ship and many of those characters that have kept the public enthralled since the sinking.

"Some of the richest people in the world board in France, some of the poorest people in the world board in Ireland, and a mix survive," said Robert Sullivan, managing editor of LIFE Books in New York City. "It turns out to be an extraordinary variety of stories."

The book begins with the construction of the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Titanic as one of three sister ships built by the White Star line to usher in a new era of opulent sea travel.

It offered the finest accommodations to first-class passengers such as New York notables John Jacob Astor IV, his pregnant wife Madeleine, and Benjamin Guggenheim on its first sailing from Southampton, England to New York, via Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland.

They were joined by lesser lights such as Margaret, now popularly referred to as "Molly", Brown. Born in Missouri to Irish immigrants, Brown's husband, from whom she had separated by the time of the voyage, had made a fortune in mining.

Other people traveled in less luxurious quarters, including Clear Annie Cameron, a 35-year old personal maid in London seeking her opportunity in America.   Continued...

An actor from the Theater Titanick performs the German company's play "Titanic" in front of the La Moneda government palace in Santiago January 21, 2012. REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Caballero