For TV viewers, April 10 is the big date on the Centenary Calendar – it’s the start of Julian Fellowes’ new four-part Titanic miniseries.
The first series of Fellowes’ Downton Abbey kicked off with the deaths of Downton heir Patrick Crawley and his father James in the Titanic disaster (though you have to wonder just who Edith was talking to in series 2).
Fellowes wasn’t the first author to kill off his characters on the Titanic. Noel Coward established one of the great tropes of Titanic fiction in his 1931 play, and 1933 movie, Cavalcade. Stepping away from the rail of their honeymoon-bound liner, newly-weds Edward and Edith Marryot revealed a Titanic lifebelt to the horrified audience.
Downton precursor Upstairs Downstairs did it too. Lady Marjorie Bellamy, the central figure in the first two series, drowned on the Titanic, although at least her ladies’ maid – and her jewellery box – survived.
In Danielle Steel’s No Greater Love, heroine Edwina Winfield lost both parents plus a fiancé on the Titanic, leaving her to battle to hold the family publishing empire together.
And then of course there’s the utterly fictitious Jack Dawson . . .