For Morgan Robertson, the future was now.
“Now” for him was his lifespan, 1861-1915.
I’m no expert on seers, but writer Morgan Robertson’s seeming predictions of the Titanic’s tragic sinking, 14 years beforehand, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 27 years in advance, seem straightforward. His writings were pretty specific with respect to the Titanic tragedy, and certainly in the ballpark regarding Pearl Harbor.
So it begs the question, just who was Morgan Robertson?
Morgan Robertson was born five months after the Civil War started, in Sept. 1861 in Oswego, New Jersey. His father Andrew was a ship captain patrolling the Great Lakes.
Young Morgan served in the Merchant Marines From 1877 to 1886, rising to the rank of first mate. Robertson then became proficient in jewelry making and worked some 10 years setting diamonds.
Putting Pen or Pencil to Paper
At around 35 years of age, Robertson began writing stories of the sea, and was published in magazine’s such as McClure’s and the Saturday Evening Post.
His interest in writing was sparked when he was given a book with sea stories. He noted inaccuracies in them and decided he could write more accurate ones.
Robertson made enough of a living as a writer to support himself doing it. He apparently became quite well-known. In all Robertson wrote more than 200 stories which found their way in 14 books.
“Futility”/”The Wreck of the Titan or Futility”
Ok, here is where things get, well, a little Spooky:
In 1898 Robertson’s 69 page novella was published, called “Futility.” In it Robertson writes of a massive British passenger ocean liner named the SS Titan. It’s said to be unsinkable and does not carry enough lifeboats for all of its passengers and crew aboard. On an Atlantic crossing in April, it collides with an iceberg and sinks in the North Atlantic. Almost all aboard die.
“Futility” was published as noted earlier, 14 years before the Titanic sank on April 14, 1912.
The novella was reissued after the Titanic’s sinking, with a new name, “The Wreck of the Titan or Futility,” no doubt to inspire books sales and raise the public’s interest in a novella that describes a tragedy written 14 years before the actual parallel event.
Here are some of the similarities between the fictional Titan and RMS Titanic. When Futility was written Titanic wasn’t even conceptualized, according to Wikipedia. Also according to Wikipedia and other sources:
Names: Titan vs. Titanic
The fictional Titan was 800 ft long.
The Titanic was 882.
Speed and Sinking:
The fictional Titan, moving at 25 knots, struck an iceberg on the starboard side on a night of April, at midnight, in the North Atlantic, 400 nautical miles from Newfoundland.
The Titanic, moving at 22½ knots, struck an iceberg on the starboard side on the night of April 14, 1912, 11:40 PM, in the North Atlantic, 400 nautical miles from Newfoundland.
The Titan sank, and the majority of her 2,500 passengers and crew died; only 13 survived.
The Titanic sank, and 1,523 of her 2,200 passengers and crew died; 705 survived.
Both the Titan and the Titanic were described as “unsinkable.”
Both were described as the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men
The Titan carried “as few as the law allowed”, 24 lifeboats, which could carry “less than half” of her total complement of 3,000.
The Titanic carried only 16 lifeboats along with 4 Engelhardt folding lifeboats.
*There were also some dissimilarities between “Futility” and the Titanic tragedy. Among them, as noted by Debra J. Groom in The strange tale of an Oswego man who wrote a book predicting a Titanic-like disaster … 14 years before it happened.
Route: The fictional Titan was traveling from New York to Liverpool, England. The Titanic was traveling from Southampton, England to New York.
Sea Conditions: The fictional Titan sank in rough seas, the actual Titanic in a calm sea.
Voyages: The fictional Titan had made three, the Titanic was on its maiden one.
Sinking: The fictional Titan hit its iceberg head on. The Titanic grazed an iceberg going past it. The Titan sank in five minutes (which seems impossible). The Titanic took more than 2 1/2 hours for the Atlantic to claim her.
All and all though, not significant differences in our view, other than the time it took the ships to sink.
The meat: Did Morgan Robertson predict the sinking of the Titanic?
On the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking Time magazine writer Heba Hasan tackled the question in an article titled “Author ‘Predicts’ Titanic Sinking, 14 Years Earlier.”
Hasan wrote “after the sinking of the Titanic, Robertson gained great acclaim for being a clairvoyant, a title he denied.
“No,” Roberston would reply. “I know what I’m writing about, that’s all.”
Hasan quoted Paul Heyer, a Titanic scholar and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University.
“(Robertson) was someone who wrote about maritime affairs,” Heyer said. “He was an experienced seaman, and he saw ships as getting very large and the possible danger that one of these behemoths would hit an iceberg.”
So for Heyer and others (seemingly including Robertson), Robertson’s “clairvoyance” is written off as coincidence and nothing more. A product too of his knowledge of ships and the sea.
Spooky Things Comments:
An argument can be made either way as to Robertson’s clairvoyance or not.
We’d probably need to know more information. For example, was April an arbitrary month, or one when icebergs would be most likely found on an Atlantic crossing, and in the the area where the Titan sank in the story?
What isn’t in dispute, is the facts, and they are Spooky regardless. Add to this, for what’s it’s worth, Robertson was said to have an interest in the occult
*(It should be noted that there are references that upon Futility’s re-issuance, some parts were re-written to make the Titan-Titanic link stronger and drive sales. But what we have not come across specifics on this issue, just the general statement)
A Japanese Seek Attack
In 1914 a short story was published by Robertson called “Beyond the Spectrum.” In the story Robertson describes a future war between the United States and the Empire of Japan.
In Robertson’s story Japan does not declare war on the United States, but instead resorts to a sneak attack on the U.S. Naval fleet heading to the Philippines and Hawaii. It leads to war between the two nations.
In his book Robertson wrote of an ultraviolet light used in battle to blind and burn soldiers. Just as the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki blinded and burned men, among other horrors.
There are some internet articles that again say this was more of a coincidence because there was great tension between Japan and the U.S. during the period when Robertson was writing. In addition, apparently, Japan had launched sneak attracts during this time against other nations.
Again the merits can be debated, and the idea of coincidence applied again. But as with the Titan/Titanic, the facts are what they are.
The End Comes
Morgan Robertson was found dead in an Atlantic City hotel room in March 1915. He died very close to where he was born and was only 53 years old.
Robertson’s New York Times obituary said he overdosed from paraldehyde —a drug used at that time as an anticonvulsant and as a sedative. It is also reported that a physician said Robertson died from heart disease.
The best article we came across on Morgan Robertson in reaching this post is this article we referenced earlier: The strange tale of an Oswego man who wrote a book predicting a Titanic-like disaster … 14 years before it happened, by Debra J. Groom.
Let us know what you think in the comment section or by emailing us directly.
And if we have any mediums out there, please contact Robertson directly for us and ask him if he was clairvoyant or not.
Until the next Spooky time,