Did this novel predict the sinking of the Titanic 14 years before it happened?

The similarities between this novel and what happened to the Titanic are uncanny.

Futility or The Wreck of the Titan is a novel written by Morgan Robertson in 1898. The story is about the ocean liner Titan and its sinking, which bears many similarities to RMS Titanic, which would sink 14 years later.

The story stars John Lee Rowland, a former lieutenant in the Royal Navy; he’s an alcoholic who has fallen to the lowest levels of society. Dismissed from the Navy, he begins work on the Titan. The ship sinks shortly before the middle of the story. After the shipwreck Rowland saves a girl and jumps into the iceberg with her; in the end, they are rescued by a ship.


Although the novel was written before the real Titanic set sail on its historic voyage of no return, there are some overlaps between the real story and the fictional one. Like the Titanic, the fictional ship sank in the North Atlantic, and there were not enough lifeboats for all the passengers. There is also a similarity in size (800 feet long for the Titan versus 882½ feet for the Titanic), speed (25 knots for the Titan, 23 knots for the Titanic), and life-saving equipment.

Here are other similarities between the real story of the Titanic and the Titan’s fiction:



  • The Titanic was one of the largest luxury liners in the world (882 feet, displacing 53,000 tons) and was once described as “unsinkable.”
  • The Titan was the largest floating vessel and considered to be man’s greatest work (800 feet, displacing 75 thousand tons); it was also deemed “unsinkable.”

Number of propellers and masts

  • The Titanic had three propellers and two masts.
  • The Titan was equipped with three propellers and two masts.

Launched in April

  • Titanic sailed from Southampton, England, on her maiden voyage in April 1912.
  • The Titan was also launched in April, also from Southampton.

They hit an iceberg

  • Moving too fast, at 23 knots, the Titanic struck an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912, in the North Atlantic 400 miles off Newfoundland.
  • Also, on an April night in the North Atlantic 400 miles off Newfoundland (Newfoundland), the Titan struck an iceberg while traveling at 25 knots.

The Sunken Unsinkable

  • The Unsinkable Titanic sank, and more than half of its 2,223 passengers died screaming for help.
  • The Indestructible Titan also sank, more than half of its 2,223 passengers died.

Number of passengers

The number of passengers on Robertson’s ship was 3,000 and it had only 24 boats. In reality, the Titanic had two thousand 207 people on board and only 20 lifeboats, an insufficient number for the number of passengers, both in the novel and in real life.

Length of the ship

The length of the ship in the novel was 243 meters; somewhat less than the actual length of the Titanic, which was 268 meters (only 25 meters difference).


There are many similarities between Morgan Robertson’s little-known novel and the real tragedy that occurred years later, and although it is nothing more than an impressive coincidence, in the end, reality ended up imposing itself on the historical record and popular culture, thanks also to James Cameron’s wonderful film that has marked us all.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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