Edith Eileen Haisman (née Brown) (October 27th, 1896 - January 20th, 1997) was one of the last remaining and oldest survivors of the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912. She was the last living survivor born in the 19th century, though seven younger survivors outlived her.
Early life[edit | edit source]
Edith Eileen Brown was born on October 27th, 1896 in Cape Colony, South Africa (under British rule) to Thomas William Solomon Brown and Elizabeth Catherine Ford. Thomas owned and operated a hotel in Cape Town.
Aboard Titanic[edit | edit source]
Edith was 15 years old when she and her parents boarded the Titanic in Southampton as second-class passengers. Thomas was taking his family to Seattle where he was going to open a hotel business. Titanic's hold contained tableware, furnishings, and 1,000 rolls of bed linen for the intended hotel.
Edith remembered clearly when Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 PM on April 14th, 1912. In a series of interviews in her later years and a biography, A Lifetime on the Titanic, published in 1995, she gave a vivid account of the ship's final moments, although some details have been called into question.
- "Father appeared a few minutes later. He told us, 'You'd better put on your life jackets and something warm, it's cold on deck. It's just a precaution. We've struck an iceberg, it's nothing much. The steward in the corridor says it's nothing to worry about.' We waited for ages on the boat deck for someone to tell us what to do. The ship's band was playing ragtime. They played to keep our spirits up. Everybody kept saying: 'She's unsinkable. She won't go down. Father kissed us and saw us into Lifeboat 14. Up to fifty people got in as it swung perilously over the side. One man jumped into the boat dressed as a woman. As we rowed away from the ship, we could still hear the band playing, but now it was hymns. We were almost six hours in the lifeboat and during that time we had no water and nothing to eat. I kept wondering if my father had got off the ship, that's all I could think of."
Thomas did not survive the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. Edith's last memory of him was that he was dressed in an Edwardian dinner jacket while smoking a cigar and sipping brandy on the deck as she and Elizabeth were being lowered in the lifeboat. Upon arrival in New York City, they stayed at the Junior League House before traveling to Seattle to live with Edith's aunt, Josephine Acton. They soon returned to South Africa where Edith lived with relatives in Cape Town after Elizabeth remarried and moved to Rhodesia.
Marriage and children[edit | edit source]
In May 1917, Edith met Frederick Thankful Haisman and they were married six weeks later on June 30. Their first child, a boy, was born in August 1918, and would be followed by nine more children. They lived in South Africa and Australia before settling in Southampton. Frederick died in 1977.
Later life[edit | edit source]
Edith's popularity as a Titanic survivor grew as she aged. In 1993, she took part in a ceremony in Southampton where she received a gold watch thought to be Thomas's, which had been recovered from a 1987 expedition of the Titanic's]] wreck. R.M.S. Titanic, Inc., which at the time held the rights to the wreck, had the watch attached to a sterling silver plate inscribed with the words, "What better use for scientific technology than to reunite a father with his child".
On April 15th, 1995; Edith was present with fellow Titanic survivor, Eva Hart, age 90, at the opening of a memorial garden at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, where a granite monument commemorating the 83rd anniversary of the sinking was erected.
In August 1996, at the age of 99, Edith joined fellow survivors Michel Marcel Navratil and Eleanor Shuman on a cruise to the location of the Titanic's wreck, where attempts were made to bring a large portion of the hull to the surface. Before leaving the site, Edith threw a rose into the Atlantic Ocean where Thomas had died 84 years earlier.
Death[edit | edit source]
Edith died on January 20th, 1997; in a Southampton nursing home at the age of 100. By her bed stood a photograph of Thomas in a straw boater, stiff collar and bowtie.
Edith remains one of the longest-lived Titanic survivors. Mary Davies Wilburn holds the record, having died in 1987 at the age of 104.
In Popular Culture[edit | edit source]
Edith Eileen make a possible appearence in A Night to Remember (1958), she's appear during the loading of one of lifeboat, helped by 6th Officer Moody. Her friend, called her: "Eileen! Eileen! We'll get back onboard tomorow without a pass!". This character may refer to the real passenger Edith Eileen Haisman. Although the actress who played her looked 10 years older than Eileen at that time.
References[edit | edit source]
- Hoge, Warren (1997-01-23). "Edith Haisman, 100, Dies - Was Oldest Survivor of Titanic - Obituary; Biography - NYTimes.com". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B06EED91F3BF930A15752C0A961958260. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- Hoge, Warren (1997-01-23). "Edith Haisman, 100, Dies - Was Oldest Survivor of Titanic - Obituary; Biography - NYTimes.com". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B06EED91F3BF930A15752C0A961958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2. Retrieved 2010-08-22.