Author of ‘Titanic: A Night Remembered’ speaks on tragedy
By Megan Exline
Commoner Journal staff writer
McARTHUR – On the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library hosted an author well-versed in the tragedy.
Stephanie Barczewski, professor of history at Clemson University, is the author of “Titanic: A Night Remembered.”
She spoke as part of the Spring Literary Arts Festival Saturday, which was 100 years to the day that the Titanic struck an iceberg. The ship hit the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, and sunk hours later.
Barczewski spoke about key themes of the Titanic: Why it was made, how it has become a cultural icon, survival rates and common misconceptions.
Barczewski said White Star Line, the company that owned Titanic, was a luxury line known for safety, which had been purchased by American JP Morgan. When Titanic was made, it was the second ship of three — others were the Olympic and Britannic — built to compete with the British Cunard line’s Lusitania and Mauretania.
Barczewski talked about how Titanic has become a subject of fascination in our culture, spurred not only by the popular James Cameron film, but also by numerous renditions and re-enactments performed before the movie. Barczewski said there have been more than 100 songs written about the Titanic, along with many books, movies and musicals.
Barczewski then showed a chart based on survival rates. She described how the captain ordered “women and children first” into the lifeboats, and she gave percentages of male and female victims based on class division.
Barczewski said that during the sinking of the Titanic, several stories unfolded.
When asked what her favorite story was, she said it was probably the story of Thomas Andrews. She said Andrews was one of the first people to find out the ship was sinking, and he encouraged passengers to get into the lifeboats. However, he is last seen standing in front of the fireplace in the first class lounge looking at a picture of Plymouth Harbor.
After her presentation, attendees were able to talk with Barczewski and have her sign copies of her book.
For more coverage of the weekend’s activities, visit our festival tab.