In 1898, 14 years before the sinking of the Titanic, fantasy writer Morgan Robertson wrote the novel Futility, which told the story of a ship that was sunk — and which bore the name The Titan. But it wasn’t just the name where we can see an uncanny coincidence. Both the fictional (THE TITAN) and real ship (THE TITANIC) were described as unsinkable, had similar technical characteristics, lacked a suitable number of lifeboats, and collided with icebergs in the North Atlantic.
After the sinking of the Titanic, the book was republished with the title Futility, or The Sinking of the Titan.
Similarities to the Titanic
Although the novel was written before the RMS Titanic was even conceptualized, there are some uncanny similarities between both the fictional and real-life versions. Like the Titan, the fictional ship sank in April in the North Atlantic, and there were not enough lifeboats for all the passengers. There are also similarities between the size (800 ft (244 m) long for Titan versus 882 ft 9 in (269 m) long for the Titanic), speed (25 knots for Titan, 22.5 knots for Titanic) and life-saving equipment.
Beyond the name, the similarities between the Titanic and the fictional Titan include:
Both were described as the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men
The Titan was 800 feet long, displacing 75,000 tons (up from 45,000 in the 1898 edition).
The Titanic was 882 feet long, displacing 46,000 tons.
Described as “unsinkable”
Had triple screw (propeller)
Shortage of lifeboats
The Titan carried “as few as the law allowed”, 24 lifeboats, which could carry less than half of her total complement of 3,000.
The Titanic carried only 16 lifeboats (plus 4 Engelhardt folding lifeboats).
Struck an iceberg
The Titan, moving at 25 knots, struck an iceberg on the starboard side on a night of April, in the North Atlantic, 400 nautical miles (740 km; 460 miles) from Newfoundland(Terranova).
The Titanic, moving at 22½ knots, struck an iceberg on the starboard side on the night of April 14, 1912, in the North Atlantic, 400 nautical miles (740 km; 460 miles) from Newfoundland (Terranova).
The Titan sank, and the majority of her 2,500 passengers and crew died; only 13 survived.
The Titanic sank, and 1,523 of her 2,200 passengers and crew died; 705 survived.
The Titan and Titanic both sank on a night in the month of April.
Following the Titanic’s sinking, some people credited Robertson with clairvoyance. Robertson denied this, claiming the similarities were explained by his extensive knowledge of shipbuilding and maritime trends.