Lawrence Beesley

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Lawrence Beesley
Lawrence Beesley in the Gymnasticroom.jpeg
Lawrence Beesley in the Gymnastics Room of the Titanic
Born (1877-12-31)31 December 1877
Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England
Died 14 February 1967(1967-02-14) (aged 89)
Lincoln, England, UK
Occupation teacher, journalist, author

Lawrence Beesley (31 December 1877 – 14 February 1967) was an English science teacher, journalist and author who was a survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.


Beesley was born in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, the son of Henry Beesley and Annie Maria (née James) and was one of 8 children.


Beesley was educated at Derby School, where he was a scholar, and afterwards at Caius College, Cambridge, again as a scholar. He took a First Class degree in the Natural Science tripos in 1903.[1]


Beginning as a schoolmaster at Wirksworth Grammar School, he moved to Dulwich College, where he was a science master. In 1957 he was still teaching as Principal of the Northwood School of Coaching, Northwood, Middlesex.

RMS Titanic

One of the survivors of the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912, Beesley wrote a successful book about his experience, The Loss of the SS Titanic (June 1912), published just nine weeks after the disaster. He saw two second class women who tried to get on a lifeboat and were told to go back to their own deck and that their lifeboats were waiting there.

At the time of Lifeboat No. 13's launching on the Boat Deck, no women or children were in immediate sight, but it seemed there was room for more. As a result, Beesley was ordered to jump into the lifeboat just before it launched. He managed to survive a subsequent incident, where Lifeboat No. 15 nearly came on top of No. 13. Boiler room no.6 stoker leader Fred Barrett managed to cut the ropes connecting the boat to the falls at the last minute, and those in both boats emerged unharmed. Beesley and the rest of the survivors were picked up by the RMS Carpathia early morning on April 15.

During the filming of A Night to Remember (1958), Beesley famously gatecrashed the set during the sinking scene, hoping to ‘go down with the ship’ that time. But he was spotted by the director, Roy Ward Baker, who vetoed this unscheduled appearance, due to actors' union rules. These events are parodied in Julian Barnes' novel A History of the World in 10.5 Chapters, where Beesley makes a brief appearance as a fictional character.

Beesley was portrayed by actor David Warner (who later played fictional character Lovejoy in James Cameron's 1997 Titanic film) in the 1979 dramatisation of the voyage and sinking, S.O.S. Titanic. He is the grandfather of New York Times science editor Nicholas Wade. Beesley was also portrayed by Lawrence Bennett in 1999 musical stage adaptation Titanic.


  • The Loss of The SS Titanic: Its Story and Its Lessons, by One of the Survivors (June, 1912)
  • The Loss of The SS Titanic (new edition, Mariner Books, 2000) ISBN 0-618-05531-2


  1. "Beesley, Lawrence (BSLY900L)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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