The RMS Titanic was built as one of the world's largest and most luxurious liners. A marine Ritz, it was a 45,000-tonne hotel of thin steel plates, travelling at a speed of 21 knots across the North Atlantic.
On the night of 14 April 1912, midway through her maiden voyage, the seemingly unsinkable ship hit an iceberg, sustaining a 300-feet gash as six compartments were wrenched open to the sea. In little over two hours, the palatial Titanic nose-dived to the bottom of the ocean. Over 1,500 people perished in the freezing waters.
Who were the people who by a cruel twist of fate happened to be travelling on the ship? In this original and timely book, Richard Davenport-Hines views the great liner as a paradigm of Edwardian soceity. At the bottom of the ship was the steerage class, filled with emigrants hoping for a better life in the New World. Above them were hundreds of second-class passengers buoyed up by their prosperous respectability. On the upper decks were the hereditary rich and those of inconceivable wealth - Americans like John Jacob Astor IV, who was found with £2000 and $4000 in sodden notes in his pockets.
Bringing together over 2,000 passengers and crew from every class and every continent, Titanic Lives tells their stories, re-creating the complexities, disparities and tensions of life one hundred years ago.