10 April 2015

A Titanic Survivor Really Did Look Like Kate Winslet

I was recently doing some research and came across a number of photographs of survivors of the Titanic.  The one which struck me immediately was the above which made me do an immediate double-take.  The woman in the picture seemed to resemble Rose DeWitt Bukater, the fictional character played by Kate Winslet in the 1997 movie.

I don’t know if you agree but although she is a few years older than Rose I found the similarity in looks quite astonishing.  Yet although Rose’s character goes on to a long and rewarding life, things didn’t quite turn out the same way for Mrs Charlotte Collyer, pictured below with her young daughter Marjorie (note the White Star Line blanket across her legs).

She lost her husband, Harvey, in the disaster.  They had decided to move to America and buy a fruit farm in Payette, Idaho.  Charlotte suffered from tuberculosis and it was hoped a move to the States from the English county of Hampshire would benefit her health.  When Harvey went down with the ship the $5,000 dollars in cash which represented their life savings went down with him. 
Charlotte and her daughter arrived in America destitute.  They received some money from both the American and British relief funds and decided to try and fulfil Harvey’s dream of owning a fruit farm in Idaho.

A letter sent to her mother-in-law is plaintive to say the least.  "Sometimes I feel we lived too much for each other that is why I've lost him. But mother we shall meet him in heaven. When that band played 'Nearer My God to Thee' I know he thought of you and me for we both loved that hymn and I feel that if I go to Payette I'm doing what he would wish me to, so I hope to do this at the end of next week where I shall have friends and work and I will work for his darling as long as she needs me. Oh she is a comfort but she don't realise yet that her daddy is in heaven."

However, these plans failed to work out and after just a few months the pair returned to England.

Charlotte was also able to raise a further $300 from selling her story to a magazine.  Perhaps this sounds like taking advantage of the situation for financial gain but compared to the $5,000 she had lost on the Titanic (not to mention her husband) it was very little indeed.  Money might not rebuild a shattered family but it would at least help them get by.

I wish I could tell you that Charlotte went on to live as long and fruitful a life as her lookalike, Rose.  She did remarry but unfortunately for Charlotte, her tuberculosis took a turn for the worse and she died in 1914, just two years after the disaster which had claimed her first husband.

As for Marjorie, now an orphan she was made a ward of court and was sent to live with her maternal uncle.  By all accounts this arrangement was not a success but Uncle Walter worked the land so – ultimately – young Marjorie did spend the remaining years of her childhood on a farm as her parents had intended but on a different side of the Atlantic.

Marjorie married a mechanic called Roy Dutton in 1927 but like Charlotte’s, her husband too died young. She never remarried and parted this world herself in 1965.