Anthony became fascinated with the Titanic story after seeing the spectacular 'raising scene' from the 1980 movie, Raise the Titanic. In the late 90s he befriended the last survivor of the disaster, Millvina Dean, who tasked him with writing her biography. His latest book, Titanic Children took him two full years to research but it is, he believes, his best work to date. He has been a high school teacher for over twenty years and resides in a small town near London.
Titanic Children: Eyewitnesses to History
There are very few aspects of the Titanic story that have not been compiled and recompiled ad nauseam. Anthony Cunningham’s Titanic Children: Eyewitnesses to History is a refreshing exception. This volume, as may be deduced from the title, tells the story of the Titanic through the youthful eyes of many of the children who bore witness to it in their own words. Due to the fact that the term teenager was not in use until decades after 1912, the author uses accounts from individuals ranging in age from newborns to seventeen years.
This book does not focus solely on the steamship’s sinking, either. Recollections from individuals who, as children, witnessed the Titanic’s construction, launching, or traveled aboard her across the English Channel are also included, as are the memories of some of the hundreds of Southampton children who lost their father in the 1912 tragedy. This approach makes the book the complete source for first-hand stories from children regarding nearly every aspect of the legendary ship’s story.
Whenever possible, the author has included a photograph of the child to go along with their account(s). The images chosen are particularly sharp and clear, and a number of them were new to this reviewer. It is always a pleasure and a benefit to have a face to go along with a name, and the author clearly worked diligently to achieve this visual connection for his readers.
The book ends with a series of helpful appendices, including a list of the ladies onboard who were pregnant and when they gave birth, and a list of the probable lifeboat allocations of the children (never an exact science). There is also a lengthy Q and A section discussing the day-to-day lives of children on the Titanic and other aspects of their experiences.
The undertaking of this book was clearly laborious and, just as clearly, it was a labor of love. With obvious passion for the topic, Anthony Cunningham has released a beautiful and thorough tribute to the Titanic story’s youngest participants. This reviewer is pleased to give this book a hearty recommendation.
There are just so many Titanic related books on the market that it's becoming "Waterlogged"! This new one by a well respected author, makes a refreshing change by covering the lives of the children aboard the ship, and how the disaster affected their lives both at the time and in the future. Skillfully written, and well researched, it's the ideal addition to anyone's Titanic collection - or, indeed, as a "Must read" on its own.
I want to share how thoroughly I have enjoyed Titanic Children: Eyewitnesses to History by Anthony Cunningham, who joined our club recently for a Zoom chat. This book is such a treat. Experiencing the Titanic disaster through these carefully curated memories from her youngest passengers really brings that night to live in a way that is quite powerful and memorable. This book definitely pulls at the heart strings, but it is also a resource that I know I'll be reaching for often in the future. I find myself loving all kinds of Titanic books but there is a special place in my heart for books that "take me there" and give me unfettered access to the memories of those who actually were there. To this group of books I believe Titanic Children takes it rightful place among the very best.
Watch our interview with Anthony