Stranger than fiction
In 1898, a well-known American author named Morgan Andrew Robertson published a novel about a fabulous British passenger liner, called the Titan. The fictional ship was far larger than any that had ever been built and was loaded with rich and complacent travelers. On a voyage in the month of April, the Titan hit an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic resulting in the loss of almost everyone on board. The clairvoyant author points to the futility of everything, and in fact, the book was called Futility when it appeared that year, published by the firm of M F. Mansfield.
Fourteen years later, a British shipping company named the White Star Line built a steamer remarkably like the one in Robertson’s novel. The new liner was 66,000 tons displacement; Robertson’s was 70,000 tons. The real ship was 882.5 feet long; the fictional one was 800 feet. Both vessels could make 24-5 knots. Both could carry about 3,000 people, and both carried an insufficient number of lifeboats, which did not seem to matter because both were labelled ‘unsinkable.’
Robertson called his ship the Titan; the White Star Line called its ship the Titanic. Futility was republished in 1912 as the Wreck of the Titan. Interestingly, Robertson also “invented” the periscope, and predicted a Japanese sneak attack on the US. He died of apparent suicide in 1915.