Titanic: Still making waves after 100 years

Christmas books of the year

Next April marks a centenary of Titanic obsessing, and about the only principal in the sorry saga which seems not to have a book to itself is the iceberg.

Somehow, the story has remained untold of how it became detached from the Greenland ice shelf, drifted on ocean currents into the path of the White Star liner, punctured it, and then carried on southward, gradually shrinking, before melting away completely.

Perhaps such a book is already at proof stage. If so, it could hardly be less likely than some others that have been published, witness Racing Through the Night: Olympic's Attempt to Reach Titanic by Wade Sisson (Amberley, £15.99). Well written and superbly illustrated though the book is, the tale of the Titanic's sister ship (a hopeless 500 miles away at the time of the sinking) cannot be other than incidental. Normal people will be bothered by this. Titanic followers such as myself will not.

The big trend now is for books about the sinking's aftermath. Foremost is Andrew Wilson's Shadow of the Titanic (Simon & Schuster, £19.99), an intelligent telling of what happened to the occupants of the lifeboats. J Bruce Ismay, managing director of White Star, senior survivor, and therefore the fall-guy, spent, in the words of Wilson, "the rest of his life trying to make himself invisible". Then there was Madeleine Astor, the teenager for whom John Jacob Astor left his wife. She remarried twice, the second time to an Italian boxer nearly twice her age. It was a tempestuous carry-on, full of histrionic rows and makings-up, and, shortly after their divorce, she expired at 47. Other eye-catchers are Helen Bishop, who survived the sinking only to die four years later after tripping over a rug; and stewardess Annie Robinson, one of 10 survivors who committed suicide, in her case by flinging herself from a ship into Boston Harbour in 1914.

One of the more arresting sequels is told in Sally Nilsson's The Man Who Sank Titanic (History Press, £8.99), whose sub-title, "The Troubled Life of Quartermaster Robert Hitchens" is nothing if not an understatement. At the wheel of the ship at the critical time, Hitchens was described as a coward at the inquiries, turned frequently to drink, saw a business venture turn sour, ran up debts, was estranged from his family, and attempted to murder his main creditor. He is another example of a survivor who was never the same again, as will be readers' feelings towards the book when they read, on page 125, of a place called the "Isle of White".

Finally, there is the finest of this year's crop: Titanic Captain: The Life of Edward John Smith, by G J Cooper (History Press, £14.99). Plainly the result of years of research, it is astutely written, and a significant contribution. It also has a poignant postscript. Of all those linked to Titanic, Smith's daughter, Melville, was one of the more ill-fated. Father went down with his ship; mother was knocked down and killed by a London taxi; her husband died in a freak shooting accident; her son was killed on war service with the RAF; and her daughter died of polio at 24. One wonders if the cause of the disaster was not the usual human failings but simply that the fates had it in for the Smith family.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas