After the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912, periodicals were flooded with references to and discussions of its tragedy. From editorials offering reasons for its sinking to poems dedicated to the drowned victims, the magazines of the period offer a window into this catastrophic event. What follows is a chronological narrative of references to the Titanic that appear in the pages of periodicals available on the Modernist Journals Project website.
On April 25, The New Age published an issue dedicated to the Titanic, which included a discussion of its sinking, the obituary of a journalist who perished aboard the ship, and a letter to the editor condemning the rich. On the same date, The Freewoman published an issue tying the British passenger liner to such topics as chivalry, organized labor and trade federations, and feminism. Additionally, there were multiple letters concerning the question of chivalry. On May 2, one week later, The New Age contained an editorial discussion of the sinking, various letters to the editor as well as a poem about the Titanic. Simultaneously, The Freewoman published “Judge Not,” which castigated individuals connected with the management and financial backing of the Titanic, as well as a wide variety of correspondences. On May 9, both The New Age and The Freewoman produced issues that contained letters concerning the tragedy. “Saving Women First,” printed in The Freewoman, is a direct response to a piece published in the April 25 issue titled “Questions.” Although this letter does not directly reference the Titanic, it does help form a picture of the readership and editorial board of The Freewoman. On May 16, The New Age printed a letter to the editor discussing ship construction standards in connection with the Titanic tragedy, while The Freewomanpublished multiple letters both praising and blaming systemic flaws in modern society. On May 23, The Freewoman continued to publish material on its ongoing debate surrounding chivalry. One week later, The New Age contained a review questioning whether the “present opinions, likes and dislikes, did not lead inevitably to this disaster.”
By June, The Freewoman published a poem referencing the tragedy. A week following this publication, The New Age reviewed a book about the sinking of the Titanic. In the same month, The Crisis published an opinion piece contextualizing the tragedy in terms of industrialism, brotherhood, greed, and cruelty. Not until September would popular magazines like Scribner’s Magazine begin printing poems on the British liner. The following month, The New Age reviewed a book, Thomas Andrews, Shipbuilder, on the designer of the Titanic. It also printed “A Successful Experiment” to discuss the monetary policy in reference to the Titanic.
At the end of 1912, Scribner’s December issue contained an article by Price Collier, who condemned the German Press for publishing much “that should have been left unsaid and unwritten” about the Titanic tragedy. Two months later, the February issue of Scribner’s contained an advertisement and publicity about an article that would be published in their next issue regarding the rescue of Titanic survivors. That piece from the March issue, which was illustrated with photographs, offered a detailed account of the rescue efforts by the Carpathia, as told by that ship’s captain, Arthur H. Rostron.
In 1914, a poem dedicated to the memory of the tragedy was published on April 30 in The New Age. The June issue of The Little Review that year contained a poem by Eunice Tietjens on the despair connected with the tragedy. Later that year, Scribner’s Magazine published “The Wishful Self” which includes an anecdote of a Titanic survivor who was experiencing Jungian regression.
The last reference to the Titanic listed in the MJP archives is dated June 10, 1920. On this date The New Age published a lecture about economic agencies and their connection with industrial policy. As an example, the lecture uses the tragedy of the Titanic to argue about industrial interference in policy matters. Although the later references appear more tangential, there is no doubt that the sinking of the RMS Titanic had a lasting and global effect on modernism.
Magazine Issues Cited (Arranged by Date)
- April 25, 1912: The Freewoman 1.23
- April 25, 1912: The New Age 10.26
- May 2, 1912: The Freewoman 1.24
- May 2, 1912: The New Age 11.1
- May 9, 1912: The Freewoman 1.25
- May 9, 1912: The New Age 11.2
- May 16, 1912: The Freewoman 1.26
- May 16, 1912: The New Age 11.3
- May 23, 1912: The Freewoman 2.27
- May 30, 1912: The New Age 11.5
- June 1912: The Crisis 4.2
- June 20, 1912: The Freewoman 2.31
- June 27, 1912: The New Age 11.9
- September 1912: Scribner’s Magazine 52.3
- October 24, 1912: The New Age 11.26
- December 1912: Scribner’s Magazine 52.6
- February 1913: Scribner’s Magazine 53.2
- March 1913: Scribner’s Magazine 53.3
- April 30, 1914: The New Age 14.26
- June 1914: The Little Review 1.4
- July 1915: Scribner’s Magazine 58.1
- June 10, 1920: The New Age 27.6