Titanic the movie captures a romance between aristocratic passenger Rose DeWitt Bukater and third-class artist Jack Dawson, but the real-life Love that played out during the tragedy is just as captivating and heartbreaking.
The stories of high-class couples like millionaire John Jacob Astor IV, the richest man on the Titanic, and his pregnant young wife, as well as tales of working class lovers aboard the ship have been chronicled in books that often include photos, article clippings, and firsthand interviews. Here are six titles to add to your reading list.
1. Titanic Love Stories
The stories of 13 honeymooning couples make up Titanic: Love Stories. Each, from John Jacob Astor and wife Madeleine to third-class emigrants Neal and Eileen McNamee, is given a chapter that includes photos, a map of their cabin, the story of how they met, and what happened to them that night.
2. A Titanic Love Story
Ida and Isador Straus's Titanic ordeal is a thing of legend. The German-Jewish immigrants were a well-suited couple. He was the owner of Macy's, a member of congress, and a philanthropist, and she was an intelligent and capable matriarch of the family. In the movie Titanic, they are last seen holding each other in their room as the water takes over. A Titanic Love Story: Ida and Isidor Straus chronicles the tale of the Strauses, who both went down with the ship. Ida reportedly put her foot in a lifeboat, but then decided to go back on the ship and share the fate of her husband.
3. And the Band Played On: The Titanic Violinist and the Glovemaker
The grandson of a Titanic survivor wrote And the Band Played on: The Titanic Violinist and the Glovemaker, about his grandparents: Jock Hume, a Scottish violinist on the ship, and Jock's pregnant fiancée who was back at home. Jock was playing on the deck of the ship until it went down, but the book continues after the sinking. The author explains the dark impact his grandfather's death had on the two Scottish families back home.
4. Lifeboat No. 8
Lifeboat No. 8 follows the fate of one lifesaving boat, which carried the wealthy Countess of Rothes and her maid Roberta Maioni. As she watched the ship go down, Roberta held tight the photo of her love, Jack Phillips, the Titanic's radio operator who remained on the ship to send out the SOS signal. Roberta and Jack may have inspired the characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in the film.
5. Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage
Told by a historian, Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage includes the personal narratives of the high-profile people who didn't make it off the ship. The book describes the elegance of the ship before the crash and the mayhem that ensued after, all while offering insight into the politics, culture, and sexual conventions of the time.
6. A Night to Remember
The 1955 classic from Walter Lord, A Night to Remember: The Classic Account of the Final Hours of the Titanic, was written close enough to the sinking that it includes tons of gripping firsthand interviews from the survivors. It also includes a passenger list in the back, detailing who survived and who perished.
The book recalls how men, after saying goodbye to their wives and children, went back to the staterooms, donned their finest clothes, and prepared to die as gentlemen. It also explains the tragedy of having half-full lifeboats sent out to sea. Since men weren't allowed to accompany women, many of the women and children waited until the end to get on the boats, meaning life-saving space on the boats went empty.