May Futrelle, First Class Passenger

Some parts are still difficult to discern; included in the transcription are links to the original letter. If you can help in reading the writing, please email me

November 20, 1955

Dear Mr.Lord:
Your book "A Night to Remember" was in my mail yesterday, and many, many thanks. I noticed it is autographed which makes it doubly appreciated. You were very thoughtful to send me a copy. I read your story in Ladies Home Journal, and thought it a magnificent account of what happened, and if it doesn't sound fulsome [?], I could use a great many adjectives to tell you what I thought - of your amazing and accurate detail, and your dramatic presentation [?] of the events of that night. How you ... see the material and how you succeeded in contacting (finding) so many survivors is almost unbelievable. I wish you success with your remarkable book. My own regret is that the Futrelles are not in it.

I have read the accounts of your 28 years search for information on the back of the jacket (and saw your picture) and if, by chance, you'd have written me thse facts, I'd have taken your request more seriously. But over the years have had such requests from 30 or 40 persons (maybe more) who were writing a book about the Titanic and wanted me to related my experiences. I am sure you can imagine that after a time this became very tiresome. In time, too, I realized these people would not, or could not write the story. Several even gave me the name of a reliable publication, which is an old-time trick. If a follow-up letter came I'd ask if they were a member of the Author's League. They were not. However, afterward, I'd sometimes find the Futrelles in a reliable magazine story, all garbled. A story in Harper's called my husband "The Famous French author, and Mrs Futrelle a charming French woman." When your letter came it was just the usual one. In my answer I think I asked if you were a member of the Authors League. You said you were an advertising man! not especially reassuring as you can see. When in all sincerity, as I realize now you began sending me quotes of what I had never said at the time of our landing in New York. At that time, I was particularly [?] contacted by Hanson Baldwin's Titanic story in his new book "Sea Fights and Shipwrecks". He is a principal offender in his many and continual all wrong Titanic stories. So I wrote you (whoever you might be the things to avoid, the contradictions, to make and I noted you do so in a very clever "if" paragraph. I also noticed you have dismissed my boat, No.9, with a passing gesture, and with all the material I have, happenings you haven't even touched on I am sorry I did not write you of the hazzardous and almost tragic launching of No.9

I can't remember if I impressed upon you that the iceberg was a growler, did not tower above decks. I don't think I gave you my definite reasons for knowing this, as I wasn't taking you too seriously. How I know - my husband and I were taking a turn around the deck as we usually did before turnings in, and happened to be on the starboard side at the time of the crash. My husband was an old-time well known newspaper man in New York before he began to write fiction and facts never escaped him. No towering iceberg floated past and the ice that fell in the decks came from the ice coated Titanic when it collided with the growler.

This was an accepted fact at the time. I can assure you now although too late for your story. No towering iceberg was even near the Titanic at the time of the crash, or rather Fleet, one of the look-outs was saved and you may, in your exhaustive research, have had a statement from him, himself (I may find it when I read your book) but even Capt. Smith said "growler", not iceberg, when my husband went to find out what had happened, and spoke to Capt. Smith himself. We knew Capt. Smith well from the days of our many crossings with him on the Adriatic and only the day before my husband had had a personal interview with him for a story to be printed in the New York Herald when we landed. Naturally, he asked the Captain himself what had happened. An Admiral in the U.S. Navy, a dear friend, later explained to me that if the iceberg had not been a growler the Titanic, going at such speed would have been so instantly and completely crunched by a huge berg no one would have been saved. To my question of how could the look-outs know a growler was dead ahead when they couldn't see it, he said, by the way the water washed over it. He was always of the opinion the look-outs were not [?] or even inexperienced in an ice field. I suppose the "growler or towering iceberg" question will never be settled. The Journals huge headline (which you may not have written) was not, however, an "if", not your fine [?] methods of letting characters speak for themselves, but a flat and definite statement - of this controversial matter. Perhaps at the risk of being [?] I should tell you what had been happening in these ... of the Journal's story. It may explain any awkward things that might crop up later. The editions of the Boston papers didn't seem to like the idea of the Futrelles being left out of your story, and down to ... a flock of reporters to find out why. I told them you had contacted me, and I have given you a great deal of information about the continual inaccuracies that had been printed over the years. And that you had noted them in some "if" paragraph. But that didn't seem to explain why the Futrelles were not even mentioned as being aboard. The Herald reporters brought down a letter, ... before ... had sent me to corroborate facts. Holt wanted them in her review of the book. I okayed the letter to avoid discussing it. I felt I had been more or less to blame for the Futrelles being left you, but couldn't answer why all the other Massachusetts passengers were not mentioned. I was asked what I thought of Mr.Lord's story and I could answer sincerely "magnificent." I have been swamped with letters from the public as well as friends, forwarded though all sort of addresses, and to date have received 43 copies of Ladies Home Journal, My Pen women buddies (National League of American Pen Women) are scattered all over the U.S. and evidently, all read Ladies Home Journal, I have never been so conspicuous by my absence. If you come to Jordan March [?] book dept. in Boston to autograph your book when it goes on sale as most authors do, I shall try to get up to meet you. And once again let me wish you a Big Success for your book. You deserve it for such a monumental achievement. I'll drop you a line when I have read it.

Most sincerely

May Futrelle

PS My daughter has just braved the storm to go over for the Sunday Papers. And in the New York Times Book Review, I have found an excellent review by Burke Wilkinson. He efficiently stresses that the band did not play "Nearer My God to Thee." Thanks for putting an end to that. I hope!

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