Whenever the RMS Titanic is mentioned, the first image that comes into people’s minds is the doomed liner’s fate. Believed by many to be unsinkable, the Olympic-class liner was the epitome of technological advancements at the time. The Titanic’s sinking, however, was a stark reminder in an age where almost anything seemed possible that humankind would never have absolute dominion over the sea.
Titanic’s legacy can be attributed, in part, to the people who sailed on her. Adhering strictly to the class system of the early 20th century, she was to carry everyone from penniless immigrants hoping for a better life in America to some of the richest people in the world. While the former made her operator, White Star Line, a lot of money, the ship itself was designed with the latter in mind – to be the last word in luxury.
During the sinking, this class system played a huge role in determining an individual’s chances of surviving (only one child in first class lost their life), and, because Titanic carried people from all walks of life, everyone can relate to the perils her passengers and crew faced on the fateful night of April 14, 1912. Of the 2,224 souls on board, 1,503 lost their lives when she struck an iceberg in the middle of the North Atlantic.
In the video below, Titanic survivor, Eva Hart, recounts her experience of the sinking:
But what very people think about when they hear Titanic’s infamous name is what day-to-day life was like for people during the five days between her setting sail from Southhampton and meeting her fate. There were, for example, a number of couples who were on their honeymoon on board the ship, and others who had parted from their love, or were returning to America to meet them, during the voyage.
One of these people was the second class passenger, Kate Buss, who wrote a love letter to her fiancé Percy James while on board.
It provides a fascinating insight into what life was like on board the Titanic where the second class accommodation was said to be equivalent to first class on any other ship. The letter itself is now up for auction and is estimated to sell for between $28,341-$35,426 (£20,000 – £25,000).