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The Titanic and the City of Widows it left Behind (Hardback)

The Forgotten Victims of the Fatal Voyage

Maritime British History P&S History Women of History 19th Century

By Julie Cook
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 140
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526757166
Published: 11th March 2020


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In the press!

• As featured in the Daily Express.


As featured in the Daily Mail: 'Forgotten victims of the Titanic: One writer has traced her own great grandmother's moving story of heartbreak and survival'.

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When Titanic foundered in April 1912, the world’s focus was on the tragedy of the passengers who lost their lives. Ever since, in films, dramatisations, adaptations and books, the focus has mostly continued to be on the ones who died.

The Titanic and the City of Widows it Left Behind focuses on another group of people – the widows and children of the crew who perished on board.

Author Julie Cook’s great-grandfather was a stoker who died on Titanic. Her great-grandmother had to raise five children with no breadwinner.

This book focuses on Emily and the widows like her who had to fight for survival through great hardship, whilst still grieving for the men they loved who’d died on the ship. Using original archive sources and with accounts from descendants of crew who also lost their lives, the book asks how these women survived through abject poverty and grief – and why their voices have been silent for so long.

Like most people the story of the Titanic is a fascination for me. And if I'm honest, I'm not sure why exactly, as there are other ships that have sank and then have been discovered beneath the waves but it's the Titanic that lives in my imagination. To discover a new book on the ill-fated ship, but rather, coming from a new perspective – that of the widows left behind in Southampton, was a great find. Not only did these strong women have to deal with the loss of their husbands and the father of their children, but they were also left in a financially insecure world with the Wall Street crash approaching. They lived in a time of social upheaval, there was the Coal Strike and the suffrage movement in swing.

These are sad stories of the already poor families that lined up at the docks of the White Star offices to check the list of survivors. It pulled at my heartstrings, the treatment they received at the hands of the White Star Line was shocking especially the successful widows who received help but were constantly monitored to make sure the relief was used befittingly.

I liked how the author included her own great-grandfather and his widow, it was a beautiful personal touch.

NetGalley, Zoe Pollock

When Titanic foundered in April 1912, the world’s focus was on the tragedy of those who lost their lives. Julie Cook’s great grandfather was a crew member who perished in the disaster, leaving a wife Emily and five children. This book focuses on Emily and the widows like her, many of whom lived in Southampton, who had to fight for survival through great hardship, whilst still grieving for the men they loved who’d died in the ship. Using original archive sources and with accounts from descendants of crew who also lost their lives, the author asks how did these women survive through abject poverty and grief – and why have their voices been silent for so long? A moving read.

Read the full review here

Julian Stockwin

Amazing, poignant, emotional and powerful book about those women & children that were left behind by their men who died on board the Titanic. Also tells the story of those few Male crew members that survived and the stigma that stayed firmly attached to them until the day they died, despite being heroic and following orders to row life boats of passengers away from the sinking Titanic.

Read the full review here

GoodReads, Sandra "Jeanz"

As featured in

Daily Mail 15/4/20

Article: ‘New book tells the stories of Southampton's Titanic widows’ as featured by

Southern Daily Echo, 15th April 2020 - words by Lorelei Reddin

There have been a myriad of books written about the doomed ship Titanic, both histories and fiction. According to the author, no one has delved into the lives of the women and children left behind by the crew who perished in the tragedy. The author has a very personal reason for writing their tales as her great-great grandfather died in the sinking. He worked in the hot bowels of the ship keeping her going. While there is some question exactly where he was at the time as his shift was about to come in when she struck the iceberg, there has been a family legend of how he gave up his chance of survival to help an elderly man into a boat.
Whether the story is fact or fiction or a combination of both, it is understandable how the family and other families like theirs needed something to help them make sense of the loss of the breadwinner and loved one. The plight they suffered right afterwards was both brutal and devastating from not knowing who lived and who died to the even more abject poverty thrust upon them until the charities and fund raisers were able to compensate them, at least to some degree.
The story of her family is one of grit, strength and determination. They survived and thrived while others perished. It seems class made a huge difference in both life and death. If not for her great-great grandmother Emily, the outcome would have been vastly different. This is a story packed with emotion. It makes for an impactful read.

NetGalley, Susan Johnston

Well written, researched, it comes from the heart - there are parallels to what we're going through at the moment. This amazing feat of human enginerring and construction over which nature prevailed in the form of an iceberg. Once again a reminder that in the end natural forces will always be stronger.

Mark Dolan, Talk Radio presenter

I found this book interesting as it felt different from other Titanic books. I overall enjoyed this book and found it an interesting premise.

NetGalley, Kay McLeer

Julie Cook has provided a harrowing and emotional story of the Titanic’s impact on those left behind. A tragic history of the vulnerable but the brave, as well as a tribute to the enduring power of family. The story of the disaster’s widows uplifts and devastates in equal measure.

Gareth Russell, author of “The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era”

A really interesting read a look at the widows who were left behind after the tragedy of the Titanic.The widows who no longer had a wage earner supporting them a look at lute survivors who suffered whose lives would never be the same.

NetGalley, Abby Siverman

A look at her great-grandfather who was a worker that died and his widow along with the situations others would have went through back in England. Really nice look at the history and legacy of what happened.

NetGalley, Alexandra Roth

This non-fiction book talks about the widows that Titanic left behind. It's an interesting perspective and it's different from what we are used to when we talk about the Titanic. Usually we learn the stories of those who lived or those who died on the ship. The widows and children that were left behind were never mentioned enough. This book is about them and it's told in a part through the story of the author's great-grandmother.

The book also discusses the social and economic conditions back then and how they affected the already difficult lives of the widows.

NetGalley, Athina Semertzaki

I have always been aware of the Titanic disaster and in fact since a small child have been drip fed a tale of a lucky escape of a family member. It had never occurred to me that those families without closure will have suffered more than the loss of a loved one. It seems that widows of sea going lower and working class men and also those children who were dependent on fathers, brothers, sons or other male relatives suffered much more.
The detail and research is sound and informative. I am now looking to revisiting the SeaCity Museum of Southampton with different eyes.

NetGalley, Sue Harler

In light of human error the greatest of ships ever built has a place forever engraved in history.
Yet, it's precisely the incorrect history that forgets the 'classes' and the 'laborers' and those who were left widowed and or orphaned.
So many have focused on the powerful, wealthy, elite yet it's the other side that has not received much attention.
Those who shoveled coal into the bunkers with soot upon them were part of this group that were soon long forgotten. However, before we jump to conclusions we should seek to understand that perhaps it was more than an iceberg that took her down. Perhaps it was these bunkers that played a major role which wasn't mentioned here in this novel but has gained traction over the years of insightful journalism.
It's truly interesting to understand the times were quite sparse with many signing up for the voyage to make a few bucks.
Many left families deeply rooted in poverty with wives unable to secure employment and the funds available were very slim.
It's quite an eye opener that deserves our undivided attention but still many unanswered questions remain.

NetGalley, Donna Hines

As featured by

Bookseller 6/12/19

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have been fascinated with the story of the Titanic and her passengers and workers over the years and read most of the books written on the subject however I will admit I have never sat down and thought about the effect it must have had on the people left behind in Southampton and so this book has been a revelation. The sad stories of these poor families left behind and the treatment they received from the White Star Line over the years. It’s so sad to see that even the women and children who managed to get help they were constantly monitored to ensure they lived a life befitting of the relief funds. This really is a very interesting and well researched read.

NetGalley, Lindsay Adams-Riley

About Julie Cook

Julie Cook has been a journalist for over 20 years. After working in-house on top magazines such as Take a Break she became freelance and now writes regularly for titles such as the Daily Mail, The Sun, Telegraph, Bella, Red online and many more. The Titanic and the City of Widows it Left Behind is a book she has wanted to write for many years because her great-grandfather was a crew member who perished on board, leaving behind a wife and five children. Julie lives with her husband and two children in Hampshire.

Perfect Partner

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Designed as the technological marvel of her age, RMS Titanic claimed to be the largest, strongest, safest ship of the early 20th Century; a triumph of centuries of Great Britain’s unrivalled shipbuilding expertise. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The 1500 American and British victims of RMS Titanic went to their watery graves never knowing that much of the ship was imperfectly forged from cheap and recycled scrap-iron and that the tragedy was caused by a chain of gross negligence and greed. Crime investigator Robert Strange has studied scientific, forensic evidence from metal raised…

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