Titanic Ghosts, Curses and Premonitions

by JoHarrington

Since before Titanic sank, on April 15th 1912, there have been strange stories connected with it. Prepare for a voyage into the unknown.

Every major disaster has those who say that they saw it coming. Little things said by people, which take on a greater significance when they don't return. Or bigger things, which become very difficult to rationally explain away.

So what if the disaster is one of the largest in human history? There are many reasons why the sinking of the RMS Titanic has fascinated so many generations since, not least its ghosts, premonitions, curses and other uncanny stories.

Did Morgan Robertson Predict the Titanic Disaster in Futility?

His novel read like a news report of the sinking of the ship, but it was written 14 years before.

Titanic had not even been thought about, when Morgan Robertson wrote Futility. Yet the similarities stretch beyond coincidence into a chilling tale.

It was 1898 when Morgan put pen to paper to create his novella about a ship sinking in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. At the time few people were interested. It was not a best-seller nor did it make him rich and famous.

It took another fourteen years for the story to become infamous. The narrative contained scenes which seemed to predict Titanic!

Futility or the Wreck of the Titan by Morgan Robertson

Wreck of the Titan Or, Futility and Morgan Robertson the Man
Futility Reality
The ship was called Titan. The ship was called Titanic.
It was the most technologically advanced ship of its age, It was the most technologically advanced ship of its age,
Measuring in at 800ft. Measuring in at 882ft.
It was considered unsinkable, It was called unsinkable,
Because it had waterproof compartments in its hull. Because it had waterproof compartments in its hull.
It sailed from New York to Britain during April, It sailed from Britain to New York during April,
Carrying 2500 of its capacity 3000 passengers. Carrying 2200 of its capacity 3000 passengers.
It hit an iceberg in the Atlantic, It hit an iceberg in the Atlantic,
400 miles west of Newfoundland. 400 miles west of Newfoundland.
There was damage to the starboard side of the hull, There was damage to the starboard side of the hull,
Exposing and flooding too many of its watertight compartments. Exposing and flooding too many of its watertight compartments.
The ship was going too fast at 25 knots, The ship was going too fast at 22.5 knots,
Hence the damage was fatally extensive. Hence the damage was fatally extensive.
There were not enough life-boats. There were not enough life-boats.
The Titan sank bow first, The Titanic sank bow first,
With a massive loss of life. With a massive loss of life.

 

As soon as the news of Titanic's sinking hit the headlines, readers experienced a sense of deja vu. The resulting publicity has kept Futility in print and going strong until the present day.

Some modern readers have also spotted another of Robertson's short stories, entitled Beyond the Spectrum (1914), which reads uncannily like the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

If he had prescience, then it didn't do him much good. He died of a drug overdose only three years after Titanic sank.

The Mystery of the Titanic

So what do you reckon? Did Morgan Robertson write about Titanic fourteen years before it actually happened? Or is it all one massive coincidence?

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Coincidence
Calanon on 04/05/2012

I think it's a coincidence.

Kate on 04/05/2012

I guess there are trillions of books out there creating imaginary scenarios, names and plots. Anyone of them could subsequently become a premonition if the correct events happen to unfold . It's a question of statistics combined with hindsight

Paul on 04/04/2012

I'm thinking that it's just a coincidence. It's very similar but as the book was written in the present day, it wouldn't be too difficult to add a little bit of imagination and arrive somewhere in the near vicinity of the measurements of the Titanic. The names are most likely similar as a ship of that size at that time would be best described as a titan. The path that the Titanic took wasn't the first time a ship has taken that route before nor is it the first time that an iceberg has taken out a ship. It would be impressive if it was a prediction, but sadly I don't think it is.

Prediction
Grant Armstrong on 05/11/2013

Without doubt. This may not have been a conscious prediction but a prediction nevertheless

Morgan Robertson Books and Stories

Read more about the man, or look closely at his tales, to help make up your mind about his reported clairvoyance.
"Where Angels Fear to Tread" and Othe...Morgan Robertson: The ManThe Wreck of the Titan : New Edition ...

Did an Ancient Egyptian Mummy's Curse Bring Down Titanic?

It seemed that Princess Amen-Ra really did not want to go any further away from her desecrated tomb.

This legend appears to have its origin in a story told by William Thomas Stead, while actually on board Titanic. He regaled First Class passengers with it on the night of April 12th.

In the cargo hold of Titanic was an Egyptian mummy. It belonged to WT Stead, but it had been smuggled on inside his car. He hadn't openly declared it, because he thought it would be refused admission. Why? Because it had a deadly reputation.

The mummy was that of Amen-Ra, a princess, who had lived around 1050 BCE during the 21st or 22nd Egyptian dynasty. Four British treasure hunters amateur archaeologists had made their way into her pyramid and removed goods from her tomb.

But they had all met an horrific fate. Death had quickly taken each of them, with one lingering just long enough to face destitution as well.

Whoever owned Amen-Ra's mummy similarly fell victim to the curse, but WT Stead was not a superstitious man. He purchased it from the British Museum, who were keen to get rid of it, after some of their staff had fallen victim to its presence.

It was being taken to America as a curiosity to show in exhibitions. But the mummy now lies in the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, along with William Thomas Stead.

The British Museum deny all knowledge of ever having such a mummy in their collection. But still on display there is the gessoed (mummy-board) of a possible priestess of the Goddess Amen-Ra. It too has an unlucky reputation.

Books about Titanic and the Mummy's Curse

Buy these books to learn more about the Egyptian curse legend associated with Titanic.
The Mummy's Curse: Mummymania in the ...An Unauthorized Guide to the Sinking ...The Mummy and the Titanic--an Archon ...

The Titanic's 1337 Curse

Constructed entirely in the fiercely Christian city of Belfast, one curse story about the Titanic ran like wildfire through its Catholic population.

The hull number was 3909 04. Look innocuous to you? Then read it like a gamer would, then turn it around (or simply read it in a mirror).  It appears to spell out the words 'NO POPE'.

The story went that Protestant shipbuilders had assigned it, in order to upset Belfast's Catholics, but God had had the last grim laugh when Titanic sank beneath the waves.

There's only one slight hitch with this tale. 3909 04 wasn't Titanic's hull number. That was 131428.

Titanic: Beyond the Curse (2004)

This Discovery Channel program charts a course through some of the unsettling personal experiences associated with Titanic.

Titanic Ghosts in Halifax, Nova Scotia

With a cemetery filled with unnamed graves, is it any wonder that displaced spirits roam this Canadian city?

Even before the survivors of Titanic had reached New York City, another boat was leaving from Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada.

This was usually in service laying coastline cables, but the news of the disaster had been radioed through. It was now laden with coffins and ice. It was going to collect the floating dead.

Nothing prepared the crew for what they were about to encounter. Over 300 corpses bobbed on the ocean waves, kept afloat by their life-jackets. They carpeted the seascape for miles around the spot where the liner had gone down.

There was another problem too. The radio message hadn't quite conveyed the scale of the disaster. The cable boat only had 109 coffins.

Strict social hierarchy had dominated the selection for getting into the lifeboats, now it played a part in determining a place in the coffins. The salvage crew sorted through bodies for signs of social class.

Those with monogrammed jewelry or clothes which suggested they had been First Class were automatically embalmed on the boat. The majority of steerage passengers were stripped of identifying items and their life-jackets, then consigned to the icy depths as a burial at sea.

Finally over-burdened with more bodies than the boat could safely hold, the crew returned to Halifax. Each corpse was numbered and, where possible, given a name. The majority were buried in graves lining the city hill-side, their funerals paid for by the White Star Line, the owners of Titanic. Their headstones merely held the date, the fact of their being on that ship and their number.

That was not the end of the story.

Buy Secrets of the Dead: Titanic's Ghosts

This is the story of the bodies being brought back from Titanic; plus modern forensic investigations to finally give some of them their names.
Secrets of the Dead: Titanic's GhostTitanic's Ghosts

A makeshift mortuary had been made in a port side building, which is now the Five Fisherman Restaurant. Diners and staff alike have reported strange phenomena. Cutlery moves on the tables without anybody touching it. Glasses are flung from shelves. Disembodied voices call for help. Shadowy figures are spotted rushing across the dining room. A misty, grey shape floats down the central staircase. An old man's reflection has been seen in the bar-room mirror.

There have also been shadowy silhouettes seen in the local St Paul's Anglican church, where the funerals took place. (Maybe because many of the dead were Irish Catholics?)

These ghosts never made it to their destination and now they're trapped, far from home, in a strange place not of their choosing. Perhaps that is why the haunting seems so strong in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Books on Halifax Hauntings

Buy these accounts of true ghost stories to learn more about Titanic's Nova Scotia ghosts.
Halifax Haunts: Exploring the City's ...Haunted Harbours: Ghost Stories from ...

The Haunted Titanic Exhibits

Items salvaged from the Titanic are often shown in museum displays all over the world. But did more come home than meets the eye?

Meghann Gibbons is a curator at the Georgia Aquarium, in the USA. In 2009, it was the venue for Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition; and it left her firmly believing in ghosts.

So many people reported feeling watched, or experiencing an over-whelming sadness, that she started to take notice. In one particularly spooky incident, a four year old boy kept demanding of his grandmother, "Who is that lady?" and "What is she doing?"

There was no-one there, whom they could see. Just personal possessions brought up from the wreck of Titanic's First Class cabins.

Wherever the exhibition goes, there are more reports just piling up. Some visitors have seen 'actors' walking about in period dress, when none were actually employed; or have commented that they enjoyed the 'ride', as the floor gently rocked to simulate a ship's deck (no such mechanism existed).

A night watchman in New York City also got a bit irritated by the fact that something set off the motion detector, every night without fail, at around 3am. There was never anything to see.

The Titanic exhibition moves around, so check out its site to see if it will be coming anywhere close to you.

Anyone can go trick or treating as a ghost. With a little imagination, you can turn your outfit into an instantly recognizable revenant of the 20th century's most iconic disaster.

TAPS Check Out Titanic Ghosts

The stories from Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition were so plentiful that Jason and Grant went along to see what they could find.

The results of their ghost hunt amongst the Titanic artifacts were broadcast as episode six, in Season Five.

Amongst the highlights is what sounded like a male voice saying, "Now, please wait." It was picked up in an EVP recording.

And what precisely did tug on Jason's jacket?

Buy Ghost Hunters Season 5 DVD

Ghost Hunters Season 5

Ghostly Encounters - Titanic

A Canadian woman may have purchased more than a lump of coal salvaged from Titanic.

I Dare You to Own your Own Piece of Titanic Coal!

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Titanic Ghosts: Victims and Survivors

In some hauntings associated with Titanic, we can identify the person calling out from beyond.

Sarah Eleanor Smith, the wife of Titanic's Captain Edward Smith, was in her drawing room at home, when the door opened.

She watched her husband walk across the carpet towards the window. No doubt this was viewed with some surprise, as he was supposed to be sailing across the Atlantic at the time. Moreover, he neither looked at her nor spoke to her.

When he reached the window, Captain Smith simply disappeared. It was too early for news of the Titanic disaster to have reached Mrs Smith, but she knew. From the moment she saw his ghost, she knew.

Nor was she the only woman in Southampton, Britain, to be experiencing such strange phenomena. All over the city, wives of sailors and other members of the crew told tales of waking in the night with nightmares, or through hearing their names called out. There were a lot of men reaching out for their loved ones, on April 15th 1912, as they sank to the bottom of the sea.

Books about Captain Edward John Smith

Learn more about the ill-fated captain of the Titanic to understand some of the decisions that he made that night.
Master of the Titanic: The Career of ...Titanic Captain: The Life of Edward J...The Master's Tale, A Titanic Ghost Story

The Ghost of Titanic Victim Benjamin Guggenheim

He died like a gentleman, but then did he take another route back home?

Benjamin Guggenheim was one of the better known men who died on the ship.

A millionaire businessman, he traveled in First Class alongside celebrities, nobility and the other wealthy passengers. The way that he died has also become legendary.

After escorting his mistress and her maid onto a lifeboat, he and his valet dressed in full formal evening attire.

The gentlemen were seen relaxing in the smoking lounge, while all over the Titanic everything else was in panic and chaos. Benjamin was sipping brandy from a fine glass, while his valet stood to attention. He blithely informed Second Captain Lightoller, "We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen."

Later on the pair did return to the deck, but only to pull out a couple of deck-chairs. They sat drinking brandy and smoking cigars, neither even attempting to get into a lifeboat.

Benjamin did send a message via a survivor though. He said, "Tell my wife, if it should happen that my secretary and I both go down, tell her I played the game out straight to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward."

They both died and their bodies were never recovered from the Atlantic Ocean. But does that necessarily mean that Benjamin Guggenheim never came home?

Monmouth University, in New Jersey, USA, has several buildings on its campus, which once formed part of the Guggenheim family's summer house. The clue is in their names - the Guggenheim Library and the Guggenheim Theater.

Both have been witness to a shadowy figure walking around them. Moreover, lights that have been switched off suddenly turn back on again, after staff have just locked up and are walking away from the door. Local lore has it that Benjamin came back after all.

Books about Benjamin Guggenheim and his Family

Learn more about one of Titanic's more charismatic victims, to uncover a life that realized the American Dream.
The Guggenheims, 1848-1988: An Americ...The GuggenheimsGrowing up Guggenheim: A Personal His...

The Ghosts of Titanic Survivors

Yes, you did read that correctly. Some of the resident spirits didn't directly go down with the ship.

Some Titanic victims didn't have to go down with the ship, in order for their lives to be over. Survivor's guilt and the condemnation of society killed them, once they were seemingly safe on dry land.

So great was the power of the testimonies of chivalry, that any man who returned in a lifeboat found himself to be a social pariah. It is a little known fact that five percent of the male survivors subsequently committed suicide. They couldn't live with the fact that they had made it home, while women and children drowned; and everyone knew it.

One such man was Dr Henry Washington Dodge. Faced with a wall of disapproval from everyone he met, Dr Dodge initially embarked on a lecture tour. He shared his memories of Titanic, but also used the platform to defend male survivors.

He tried to explain how many women would not get into the lifeboats. None of them believed that the ship would really sink and they were too afraid to get into an open boat. He only saved himself when no other takers were forthcoming for Lifeboat 13.

No-one was really buying this and the trauma wore him down. His depression became so acute that, on June 21st 1919, Dr Dodge shot himself in the head and, seven years after Titanic sank, became one of its final victims.

Yet even then there was no respite. His ghost has regularly been seen, quite clearly and by several witnesses, still wandering lost around his former home.

No such stigma attached itself to another survivor, the 'unsinkable' Molly Brown. She lived out a full life after Titanic, before dying in unexceptional circumstances in 1932. However some people think that she still walks her Denver home.

Titanic's Time Travel Survivors

Were Captain Smith and a female passenger rescued after all?

In 2008, a strange story surfaced on the internet. From sources, which seemed restricted solely to Indonesia, came the news that Captain Edward Smith had been found alive and well.

Over a decade previously, a liner passing through that infamous stretch of the North Atlantic had encountered an iceberg. Unlike its unhappy predecessor, this ship did not crash into it, but it did stop.

There was a man clutching the iceberg, holding on for dear life in the freezing conditions. If that wasn't bizarre enough, his name and aspect, upon rescue, really caused some goosebumps. He identified himself as Captain Edward Smith and he certainly looked the part.

As far as he was concerned, it was April 15th 1912 and he had been going down with Titanic. But then he wasn't. He was as startled as anybody to find himself nearly a hundred years later with none of his charges to be seen.

According to the tale, fingerprint evidence, stored in the archives of the White Star company, confirmed his identity.

But there was more! In 1991, a young woman had been found in practically identical circumstances. Wenny Kathe claimed to have been a passenger on Titanic and she too couldn't explain how she ended up adrift on a 20th century iceberg.

As unbelievable as it may seem, both of these tales appear to be a hoax. An Indonesian blogger did extensive research and concluded that the whole sensational episode was fictitious.

EVP Readings from the Site of Titanic's Sinking

Twenty-two paranormal investigators are preparing to sail out to the site of the Titanic disaster.

Led by Sandman Kelley, the Titanic Endeavour Tour will seek to record the voices of those long-since drowned at the spot.

They will take EVP equipment, which has been used to hear messages from beyond. This recorder is a staple favorite of ghost-hunters across the globe.

An Australian radio show heard all about it and uploaded the interview onto YouTube.

Interview with Sandman Kelley and William Brower

Buy Ghost Hunting Kits

Planning to visit any of the places haunted by Titanic's ghosts? Then you'll need equipment to record your experiences!
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More articles about Titanic

On April 14th 2012, the 100th anniversary of Titanic striking an iceberg, her home city showed me the human cost.
Most Titanic books end with the sinking. That's when this one begins. It's the shocking, heart-breaking story of two families left behind.
On April 15th 1912, RMS Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean. The story has fascinated generations ever since. But why?
Votes for Women or boats for women? In 1912, the press pushed to make it either/or and the Suffragettes were left floundering.

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Are there Hungry Fields in Ireland waiting to trap unwary walkers? And if so, what ghosts lurk within? True Irish hauntings as recounted to me.
An aggressive ghost attacked a family and visitors to a home in Atchinson, Kansas. No-one can live there now.
Hauntings on the Tube are hardly surprising. Parts of the London Underground are the oldest in the world; and some passengers never got off.

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Updated: on 10/11/2013, JoHarrington
 
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JoHarrington on 04/11/2012

Thank you very much. I'm glad that you liked it. :)

mandeesears on 04/11/2012

Another excellent Titanic article Jo!

JoHarrington on 04/10/2012

Indeed! It bears consideration anyway. I think that the auctions were used to offset the costs involved in the dives themselves.

onepagearticles on 04/10/2012

Watched a program about the Titanic the other night and it's a shame that all the artefacts that were picked up from numerous dives to the Titanic went for public auction instead of back to the families that owned them....you never know if that's created a curse right there!

JoHarrington on 04/10/2012

Nice one, Kari! Thanks for adding that one. I did know about the near miss, but I didn't realize that it had been pegged as an omen. It seems that there were a lot of incidents like this, which rang alarm bells for some.

Kari on 04/09/2012

I know of another. It's not a ghost story, but it is an omen story. When Titanic left the port it almost sucked down a ship called the New York in it's wake. Some people thought it was a sign Titanic would never reach New York because of it.

JoHarrington on 04/05/2012

Glad to have been so entertaining. ;) I did enjoy writing this one though, especially trying to work out what rational explanations might apply.

Kate on 04/05/2012

Entertaining article. I don't believe in ghosts as such but I do enjoy a good ghost yarn. Thanks x

JoHarrington on 04/04/2012

Me too. :D Though I was more than a little dubious over the time travel story.

And thank you for your kind words. I'm really glad that you liked it. I enjoyed researching and writing this page.

Sheri_Oz on 04/04/2012

Another fascinating article, Jo. You are amazing!! There is so much work invested in making this. And I read each and every word. BTW, I do believe in ghosts.




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