Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Coincidences in History

In 1838 Edgar Allan Poe wrote a book called The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, his only full novel. One scene in the book talks about a whaling ship lost at sea, where four crewmen, having run out of food draw lots to see who will be eaten, the unfortunate decision landing on a young cabin boy named Richard Parker.

Forty-six years later, there was an actual disaster at sea involving the Mignonette. It became famous due to the legal consequences of some gruesome events on board, specifically the way the men drew lots and decided to eat their cabin boy, who was named Richard Parker.

A hundred years before James Cameron and 'Titanic' hit the big screens, American author Morgan Robertson wrote a book called Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan, about the sinking of an "unsinkable" ocean liner. The story that has been told over and over again (13 times in film before Cameron, including one by the Nazis), but Robertson's book was first.

The Wreck of the Titan was published in 1898, 14 years before RMS Titanic was finished being built. The Titan was described as "the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men," "equal to that of a first class hotel," and, of course, "unsinkable". Both ships were British-owned steel vessels, both around 800 feet long and sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, in April, "around midnight." Robertson wrote that the Titan crashed "400 miles from Newfoundland" at 25 knots, and the actual Titanic crashed into an iceberg 400 miles from Newfoundland at 22.5 knots.