The sinking of the Titanic claimed some 1,500 lives, among them a gallery of early 20th-century A-list celebrities. Captains of industry John Jacob Astor IV and Benjamin Guggenheim both went down with the ship, as did Macy’s co-owner Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida, who refused to leave his side. The popular American mystery writer Jacques Futrelle, the American painter and sculptor Francis Millet, and Maj. Archibald Butt, friend and aide to then-President William Howard Taft, were lost as well.
But for all the boldface names among the Titanic’s victims, many more might have been aboard, but for the vagaries of fate. Among them were:
The novelist, then 40, considered returning from his first European holiday aboard the Titanic; an English publisher talked him out of the plan, persuading the writer that taking another ship would be less expensive.
Dreiser was at sea aboard the liner Kroonland when he heard the news. He recalled his reaction the following year in his memoir, A Traveler at Forty: “To think of a ship as immense as the Titanic, new and bright, sinking in endless fathoms of water. And the two thousand passengers routed like rats from their berths only to float helplessly in miles of water, praying and crying!”