Titanic (tītăn´Ĭk), British liner that sank on the night of Apr. 14–15, 1912, less than three hours after crashing into an iceberg in the N Atlantic S of Newfoundland. More than 1,500 lives were lost. The Titanic, thought to be the fastest ship afloat and almost unsinkable, was on her maiden voyage and carried many notables among the more than 2,200 persons aboard. These circumstances made the loss seem the more appalling to the public in England and the United States.

Official and other investigations revealed that messages of warning had been sent but had either not been received by the commanding officers or had been ignored by them. The ship had continued at full speed even after the warnings were sent. She did not carry sufficient lifeboats, and many of the lifeboats were launched with only a few of the seats occupied. Other vessels in the vicinity were unable to reach the Titanic before she sank; one, only 10 mi (16 km) away, did not respond because her wireless operator had retired for the evening. A study published in 2008 revealed that the disaster can be blamed at least partially on low-grade rivets used in some portions of the ship, which broke on impact and caused the ill-fated liner to sink rapidly.

The disaster brought about measures to promote safety at sea, particularly the establishment of a patrol to make known the location of icebergs and of stringent regulations about the proper number and proper equipment of lifeboats to be carried by vessels. The catastrophe inspired a large literature. An expedition led by Robert D. Ballard discovered the wreck in 1985.

See L. Beesley, The Loss of the S.S. Titanic (1912, repr. 1973) A. Gracie, The Truth about the Titanic (1913, repr. 1973), W. Lord, A Night to Remember (1959), R. Brown, Voyage of the Iceberg (1983), B. Beveridge et al., Titanic—The Ship Magnificent (2 vol., 2008), and J. H. McCarty and T. Foecke, What Really Sank the Titanic (2008).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Titanic: Selected full-text books and articles

Unsolved Mysteries of History: An Eye-Opening Investigation into the Most Baffling Events of All Time By Paul Aron John Wiley, 2001
Librarian's tip: Chap. 21 "Could the Titanic Have Been Saved?"
When They Built the Ship Titanic By Bond, Stephanie J National Forum, Vol. 81, No. 1, Winter 2001
RMS Titanic: Memorialized in Popular Literature and Culture By Edgette, J. Joseph Studies in the Literary Imagination, Vol. 39, No. 1, Spring 2006
A General Semantics Analysis of the RMS Titanic Disaster By Levinson, Martin H ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Vol. 69, No. 2, April 2012
Crisis Communications: A Casebook Approach By Kathleen Fearn-Banks Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: "Mini-Case 1: White Star Line's Titanic Sinks" begins on p. 4
Contemporary American Cinema By Linda Ruth Williams; Michael Hammond Open University Press, 2006
Librarian's tip: "Titanic" (about the film) begins on p. 349
What Happened to the Only Black Family on the TITANIC By Hughes, Zondra Ebony, Vol. 55, No. 8, June 2000
The Impact of the Sinking of the Titanic on the New York Syrian Community of 1912: The Syrians Respond By Elias, Leila Salloum Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), Vol. 27, No. 1-2, Spring 2005
FREE! Notes on Life and Letters By Joseph Conrad Doubleday Page & Company, 1921
Librarian's tip: Includes the following essays by author Joseph Conrad: "Some Reflections On the Loss of the Titanic" (p. 213); "Certain Aspects of the Admirable Inquiry into the Loss of the Titanic" (p. 229); "Protection of Ocean Liners" (p. 249)
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