While I was recently researching for an article about the dogs that were on board Titanic, I came across several accounts of the small dog I had based my fictional pup – Edmund – on. This little dog was a prize Pekingese called Sun Yat-Sen, belonging to first class passengers, Henry S. Harper and his wife. As I read on, I was amazed to discover exactly who Henry S. Harper was.
I’d read about Titanic’s dogs when initially researching for the novel and was surprised to discover that there were so many dogs on board (around a dozen) and that several survived. This was such an unusual side to the Titanic story that I wanted to include a dog in THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME. I created Edmund, a Pekingese, who belongs to my fictional first class passenger, Vivienne Walker-Brown.
What I hadn’t realized, until I dug a little deeper for this particular article, was that the real dog who had inspired my fictional creation, belonged to Henry S. Harper and his wife, Myna who had boarded Titanic in Cherbourg and were returning from a tour of Europe and Asia to New York where Henry was a director of successful publishing business, Harper & Row. That publishing business became HarperCollins – the publishers of THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME! I was blown away when I made the connection – as were my publishers! It somehow seems very fitting, given this Titanic connection, that it is HarperCollins who have published my book.
Happily, Henry, his wife – and the dog – all survived the sinking, being rescued in lifeboat number three. I wonder what he would have thought of my version of events that fateful night?!
You can read my full article about Titanic’s dogs on Historical Honey.