Lawrence Beesley
Lawrence Beesley (back) in the Gymnastics Room of Titanic
Born(1877-12-31)31 December 1877
Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England
Died14 February 1967(1967-02-14) (aged 89)
Lincoln, England
Occupation(s)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 RMS Titanic.


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 in Derbyshire, he moved to Dulwich College in south London, where he was a science master. In 1957 he was still teaching as Principal of the Northwood School of Coaching, Northwood, Middlesex.

RMS Titanic

Further information: Lifeboats of the RMS Titanic § Boat 13 (starboard)

A second class passenger, Beesley is one of the survivors of the sinking of Titanic in April 1912, He wrote a successful book about his experience, The Loss of the SS Titanic (June 1912), published just nine weeks after the disaster.

Lifeboat No.13 was being launched 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 instructed to jump into the lifeboat just before it launched. He managed to survive a subsequent incident where Lifeboat No.15 nearly landed on top of No.13. The leading stoker of boiler room No.6, 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 RMS Carpathia in the early morning of 15 April.

Later life and legacy

During the filming of A Night to Remember in 1958, Beesley famously gatecrashed the set during the sinking scene, hoping to 'go down with the ship'. However, 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 Spicer Lovejoy in James Cameron's 1997 Titanic film) in the 1979 dramatisation of the voyage and sinking, S.O.S. Titanic. Beesley was also portrayed by Lawrence Bennett in 1999 musical stage adaptation Titanic. His son Alec married the author Dodie Smith,[2] and he is the grandfather of New York Times science editor Nicholas Wade.[3]



  1. ^ "Beesley, Lawrence (BSLY900L)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ Grove, Valerie (1996). Dear Dodie : The Life of Dodie Smith. London: Chatto & Windus. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-7011-5753-1.
  3. ^ Wade, Nicholas (9 April 2012). "As Hundreds of Men Perished, One Ignored a Rumor to Survive". The New York Times.