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With her latest tour of the United States just ended, the American-born dancer Isadora Duncan had a number of ships to choose from for her return to Europe, where she was then living, among them the Lusitania. Though she had crossed the Atlantic on the luxurious liner before, she passed it up this time in favor of the more humble Dante Alighieri , which left New York eight days later. One reason may have been money: Her tour had been a financial disaster. Several histories of the Lusitania disaster give the impression that Duncan sailed on the liner New York with Ellen Terry see below.

Such, for instance, as the sinking of the Lusitania. An experience like that should leave for ever an expression of horror upon the faces of the men and women who went through it, whereas we meet them everywhere smiling and happy.

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A dozen years later, Duncan would have a famously fatal encounter with another form of transportation, strangled when her scarf became entangled in one of the wheels of a car in which she was riding. Her father survived the sinking; her mother did not.

Among his clients were W. Fields, the Marx Brothers and Will Rogers, popular stage performers who would go on to become even bigger stars in the new media of movies and radio. Terry, who was 68 at the time, lived for another 13 years, during which she continued to perform and lecture as well as make several motion pictures. As Gillette later told the story, however, he had a commitment to perform in Philadelphia and was forced to stay behind. Though little remembered now, Gillette was famed in his era as both a playwright and stage actor, especially for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.


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It was Gillette, for example, who furnished Holmes with his trademark bent briar pipe, Zecher notes. Unfortunately, the film, like many others of the silent era, seems to be lost. Gillette died in at age His eccentric and highly theatrical stone mansion in East Haddam, Connecticut, is now a tourist attraction, Gillette Castle State Park.

At a time when few Americans could afford international travel and much of the planet remained exotic and unexplored, adventurers like Wirt brought the world to them. He was also a minister and war correspondent. He died in , at the age of The sinking of the Lusitania in and the Titanic in may be forever linked as the two most famous maritime disasters of the 20th century.

But the similarities between the Cunard liner Lusitania, launched in , and the White Star liner Titanic, launched in , hardly end here. Each was the largest ship in the world at the time of its debut, the Lusitania at feet, the Titanic at feet. They were also two of the most luxurious ships afloat, designed to compete for the rich and famous travelers of the day as well as for the profitable immigrant trade. In fact several notable passengers had ties to both ships:.

Eloise Daniel lost her first husband in the Titanic disaster and met her future mate when he was pulled aboard the lifeboat she was in. They married two years later. Continue or Give a Gift. Privacy Policy , Terms of Use Sign up.

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Room 40 was this super-secret organization founded by the Admiralty to take advantage of the miraculous recovery of three German codebooks. Using those codebooks, they successfully intercepted and read German naval communications. One of the best moments of my research came at the National Archives of the United Kingdom. I put it on my desk in the reading room, opened it up, and there was this very large codebook which was said to have been in the arms of a German sailor washed ashore after his destroyer was sunk by the Russians.

It contained all the German code words for some 30, code crypts. Seeing it there in the archives, touching this thing, was incredible! Blinker Hall is often thought to have been the head of Room He was, in fact, the head of British Naval Intelligence. But Blinker Hall was the guy who understood how this information could be used to best advantage. He had the features of a woodpecker and a keen imagination. He was a very, very cunning guy. The tragedy, in which Americans died, took over the front page of the New York Times the next day.

The encounter of ship and submarine is like the Titanic and the iceberg: the fatal conjunction of improbable events. It is incorrect to say that Schwieger was stalking the Lusitania. It is this confluence of chance forces that converged in the Irish Sea.

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How the Sinking of Lusitania Changed World War I

The ship departed two hours late because it had to take on passengers from a ship that had been commandeered by the British Admiralty. Those two hours put the ship right on the path of contact with the submarine. Schwieger had actually decided to go home and end his patrol because of fog and bad weather.

But he came up for a look and found that the weather had suddenly cleared. In the distance, he saw this large collection of masts and antennae. At first he thought it might be a number of ships.

The Sinking of the Lusitania,

But as he watched, he saw that it was just one ship. It was too far away to catch. But he decided to follow and see what would happen. And sure enough, the Lusitania made a starboard turn that put it directly in the path of the U, and Schwieger was able to set up his shot and attack.

Remember the Lusitania: 3 pieces of World War I propaganda

Women and children first it was not. In the case of the Titanic , it was women and children first on the available boats. In the case of the Lusitania , the study argues that the very short time it took for the ship to sink caused mores to break down and it became every man for himself. The passengers on the Lusitania actually behaved with great courtesy and calm. The problem was that, after the torpedo struck, the ship immediately took on this very severe list. Half the lifeboats were unusable. The other half were slung out 60 feet above the sea and 8 to 10 feet out from the hull, so it was definitely not for the faint of heart to try and board them.

In fact, relatively few people went into the lifeboats at all. Most people jumped or remained on the ship—for reasons that are very hard to fathom—and were ultimately swept away in the final cataclysm. Of the 1, passengers on board, 1, perished. You can argue for both sides of this. Churchill saw it from a British point of view. And there is a lot to his argument. In fact, what he wrote in his book enhanced my appreciation of him.

He was a unique, if at times erratic, genius. But I think Wilson was doing the right thing for his country. Ordinarily Turner avoided events of this kind aboard ship, because he disliked the social obligations of captaincy, but tonight was no ordinary night, and he had news to convey. There was already a good deal of tension in the room, despite the singing and piano playing and clumsy magic tricks, and this became more pronounced when Turner stepped forward at intermission. His looks helped.

With the physique of a bank safe, he was the embodiment of quiet strength. He had blue eyes and a kind and gentle smile, and his graying hair—he was fifty-eight years old—-conveyed wisdom and experience, as did the mere fact of his being a Cunard captain. This in itself was anything but news.

Turner now revealed to the audience that earlier in the evening the ship had received a warning by wireless of fresh submarine activity off the Irish coast. He assured the audience there was no need for alarm. Coming from another man, this might have sounded like a baseless palliative, but Turner believed it.

His superiors at Cunard shared his skepticism. She is too fast for any submarine. No German war vessel can get her or near her.