How to Survive the Titanic or the Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay
Books have been written, films made, we have raised the Titanic and watched her go down again on numerous occasions, but out of the wreckage Frances Wilson spins a new epic: when the ship hit the iceberg on 14 April 1912 and a thousand men prepared to die, J Bruce Ismay, the ship's owner and inheritor of the White Star fortune, jumped into a lifeboat with the women and children and rowed away to safety. Accused of cowardice, Ismay became, according to one headline, 'The Most Talked-of Man in the World'. The first victim of a press hate campaign, his reputation never recovered and while other survivors were piecing together their accounts, Ismay never spoke of his beloved ship again. With the help of that great narrator of the sea, Joseph Conrad, whose Lord Jim so uncannily predicted Ismay's fate - and whose manuscript of the story of a man who impulsively betrays a code of honour and lives on under the strain of intolerable guilt went down with the Titanic - Frances Wilson explores the reasons behind Ismay's jump, his desperate need to make sense of the horror of it all, and to find a way of living with lost honour. For those who survived the Titanic the world was never the same again. But as Wilson superbly demonstrates, we all have our own Titanics, and we all need to find ways of surviving them.
The strange and fascinating story of the owner of the Titanic, J. Bruce Ismay, the man who jumped ship
Winner of Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography 2012.
Beautifully written, and beautifully deconstructed Sunday Times A gripping study - part reportage, part biography, part literary criticism - of the more intimate ramifications of a disaster which still haunts the public imagination Sunday Telegraph Wonderfully rich and multi-layered ... Full of fascinating details ... It is one of the few works of recent non-fiction that would benefit from a second, or even a third reading. Every sentence crackles with intelligence Mail on Sunday Masterful and timely Daily Telegraph An unusual and creative book ... in the end, the subject of this fascinating book is not just historical or biographical uncertainty, but psychological and moral ambiguity Guardian Wilson's biography is beautifully written and beautifully constructed Sunday Times
Frances Wilson is a critic, journalist and the author of three works of non-fiction, Literary Seductions, The Courtesan's Revenge and The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth, which won the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize in 2009. She lives in London with her daughter.