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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Letter written on Titanic hours before disaster to fetch €120k

Aishling Phelan

Published 01/04/2014 | 11:54

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A LETTER written by a passenger on the Titanic, just hours before it sank, is expected to sell for up to €120,000 at auction.

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Written on Titanic headed notepaper, the letter was penned by Esther Hart, who survived the disaster along with her seven-year-old daughter Eva.

She was writing to her mother in Essex in England to tell her of the “wonderful passage” despite the cold conditions and had planned to post it when her family reached New York.

Mrs Hart had given the letter to her husband Benjamin, who had placed it in a sheepskin coat.

He wrapped the coat around his wife to help keep her warm as he ushered her and Eva into lifeboat No 14 on the night the ship struck the iceberg.

Mr Hart was never seen again and was one of 1,522 lives lost on Sunday, April 14 1912 when the “unsinkable” liner sank.

The letter is thought to be the last surviving correspondence written on board the Titanic, just before it sank on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic.

‘‘The sailors say we have had a wonderful passage up to now. There has been no tempest. It is very nice weather but awfully windy and cold,’’ Mrs Hart wrote.

She explains that the ship was expected to arrive in New York 12 hours ahead of schedule due to the speed it was travelling at.

The two-page letter gives readers an insight into life on board the ill-fated ship for the passengers.

Mrs Hart told how her seven-year-old daughter sang her favourite hymn ‘Oh God our help in ages past’ in the church service that morning.

‘‘She sang out loudly, she is very bonny,’’ she said.

It also contained a small note from the child saying, ‘‘Heaps of love and kisses to all from Eva.’’

‘‘We have met some nice people on board and so it has been nice so far. But oh the long, long days and nights it’s the longest week I ever spent in my life,’’ Mrs Hart wanted to tell her mother.

Her daughter Eva went on to became one of the most famous survivors of the tragedy because of her outspoken criticism of White Star Line’s failures in providing enough lifeboats.

Esther died aged 65 in 1928 after she and Eva returned to London.

Eva went on to become a magistrate and died in 1996 aged 91.

The auction takes place on April 26 by auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son of Devizes, Wilts, on behalf of a private collector who bought it from the Hart family 20 years ago.

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