John Welshman to produce book provisionally entitled Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town

Date: 1 March 2010

Dr John Welshman (History) has signed a contract with Oxford University Press for a book provisionally entitled Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town, to be published in April 2012.

Based on 12 personal accounts, John Welshman's book Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town is a social history of the sinking of the Titanic on its inaugural voyage. The book features the stories of Titanic passengers and crew, and the Captain of the Carpathia rescue ship. The featured stories are those of Lawrence Beesley (35), an English teacher, journalist, and writer; Harold Bride (22), the Assistant Wireless Operator; Edith Brown (15), a girl from South Africa; Frank Goldsmith (9), travelling to Detroit with his parents; Archibald Gracie (53), a wealthy American cotton plantation owner; Elin Hakkarainen (24), a migrant from Finland, travelling Third Class; Eva Hart (7), on the way to Winnipeg with her parents; Violet Jessop (25), a Stewardess; Charles Lightoller (38), the Titanic's Second Officer; Arthur H. Rostron (43), Captain of the Carpathia; Elizabeth Shute (40), an American governess; and Hanna Youssef (27), a Lebanese migrant travelling with her two children.

What were the earlier histories of these 12 people, some of whose stories are well-known, at least to experts, but others much less so? What were the experiences of passengers who were in Third Class, and who were neither British or American? Why, despite the emphasis on 'women and children first' were the early survivor narratives dominated by men? And what happened to these people in the years after 1912? Covering the stories of both passengers and crew, and individual experiences as well as broader social changes, Titanic links text and context, and is as much a contribution to social history as a narrative of what actually happened. Its key themes are those of social class; place and nationality; migration; age and gender; work; and the relevance of the disaster to the broader social, cultural, and political history of Northern Ireland.


Further information

Associated departments and research centres: History