RMS Titanic

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The Story of William T. Stead

William Thomas Stead (1849-1912) was a well-known British journalist. Among others, he wrote articles for the Review of Reviews which he had founded and edited until his death in 1912 – on the Titanic.
He was an enthusiastic spiritualist, though he combined the spiritualism with the belief in God. He objected the attempt of obtaining empirical evidence of the supernatural. He expressed his objection in the following passage: Stead imagined himself drowning. When crying for help and telling the would-be rescuers that he was W. T. Stead, they asked him to prove this claim by telling them personal information like the place of his birth and the name of his grandmother. This statement was seen by many as a precognition of his death.
However, Stead himself thought that he would die a violent death on land at the hands of a mob. He wrote: "I had a vision of a mob, and this has made me feel that I shall not die in a way common to most of us, but by violence, and one of many in a throng."
Nevertheless, it is often claimed that Stead foresaw the sinking of the Titanic, because of two of his stories:
The first one was published in the Paul Mall Gazette in 1886, where he described the sinking of an ocean liner, though not as a result of hitting an iceberg. Anyway, also in his story, many lives where lost due to lack of lifeboats. He commented that this was exactly what would take place if the liners were sent to sea short of boats. However, such fears were often expressed, and it is nothing more than a coincidence that one of the victims of the Titanic disaster expressed them before the disaster.
The second story is also prophetic: In his novel "From the Old World to the New," a passenger aboard the vessel Majestic learns by "automatic writing" – information is transmitted by telepathy and written down "automatically" by the hand of a medium – that a ship running ahead of the Majestic, the Ann and Jane, has struck an iceberg and has sunk. Three of the passengers manage to rescue themselves onto a nearby iceberg. The passenger has difficulties to persuade the captain of the Majestic – who is, by the way, Edward John Smith, who should later find his death as the captain of the Titanic – to stop at least if an iceberg comes in sight in order to check whether the survivors are on it. One of the shipwrecked is finally rescued, while the others have already died from exhaustion when the Majestic arrives.