Titanic Survivor: The Newly Discovered Memoirs of Violet Jessop Who Survived Both the Titanic and Britannic Disasters

Violet Jessop, Author, John Maxtone-Graham, Editor, John Maxtone-Graham, Introduction by Sheridan House $23.95 (238p) ISBN 978-1-57409-035-2
To compete with Cunard's fast liners Mauretania and Lusitania, White Star introduced the Olympic-class liner in 1911. It was followed by two sisters, the infamous Titanic in 1912 and the nearly forgotten Britannic in 1914. The ""Unsinkable Molly Brown"" might have been modeled on Jessop, who was a member of White Star's ""victualing department"" (a stewardess) and had the distinction of being aboard the Olympic when it collided with HMS Hawke in 1911. She also worked on the Titanic when it sank on its maiden voyage in 1912 and was a nurse on the hospital ship Britannic when it hit a mine and sunk in the Aegean Sea in 1916. Jessop went to sea in 1908 at the age of 21, and her career ended in 1950 after sailing on more than 200 voyages. Her story, proficiently edited and annotated by Maxtone-Grahamn (The Only Way to Cross), tells of the hardships encountered by those who worked on the North Atlantic run. Jessop admits that ""I did not like big ships, that I was secretly afraid"" and this fear would be borne out on April 14, 1912 when Titanic hit an iceberg. Her description of the sinking is chilling as she sees to the needs of her passengers then looks for a warm coat for herself. While she was in the lifeboat, somebody threw a ""forgotten baby in my arms,"" she writes. ""Fascinated, my eyes never left the ship, as if by looking I could keep her afloat."" And she began to count the decks: from five to four to three to two, to none. Her description of the sinking of the Britannic is equally compelling. Jessop has added a fresh, indispensable chapter to the legend of the Titanic that buffs and historians will find invaluable. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 07/01/1998
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