Titanic Survivor to NatGeo Writer



Helen Churchill Candee had an extraordinary life. She was a divorced mother of two and a prolific writer before she ever stepped on the deck of the Titanic. And she made the papers when the ship sank.
Given Candee’s prominent social status and her career as a prolific writer, information about her experience on the night the Titanic sank is surprisingly scant. She did not give interviews, she did not write about it herself. What details there are have been a source of romantic conjecture, due, in large part, to a piece Candee published just three weeks later on May 4, 1912 in Collier’s Weekly entitled “Sealed Orders”. It is not a firsthand account, but a third-person story about an unnamed man and an unnamed woman who keep one another company during the voyage until they are parted by tragedy.

Readers have speculated on the identities of the couple. Many believe Candee to be the woman, while some think that the “Sealed Orders” gentleman is an amalgam of Edward Kent and Hugh Woolner. Both men were friends with Candee. Kent was one of the more than 1,500 passengers who died in the disaster. A cameo of Candee’s mother, which Candee apparently gave to Kent for safekeeping when the boat began sinking, was later found on his body. Woolner survived and went on to testify in a Senate hearing about the accident the following year. Some readers of the piece have gone even further, hypothesizing that the characters of Jack and Rose in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic, may have been inspired by Candee’s story, although there is little evidence for this theory. Candee does, however, appear as a character in James Cameron’s 2003 documentary, Ghosts of the Abyss.

But Candee's adventures continued. She traveled the world, worked for women's suffrage, and kept writing into old age -including articles for National Geographic, where you'll enjoy more of her story. Link -Thanks, Marilyn!

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