Violet Jessop was born October 2, 1888, in Argentina. Born to Irish parents, Jessop had several siblings. Her family moved to Britain after her father’s death.
Jessop followed in her mother’s footsteps and began working as an ocean liner stewardess. She was on the Olympic when it collided with another ship in 1911. The following year, she was aboard the Titanic when it sank and escaped on one of the lifeboats. Ironically, Jessop did not want to serve aboard the Titanic but was persuaded by others who told her she would have a wonderful experience.
Once in the lifeboat, Jessop was handed a baby to take care of. The mother found her child when the survivors were aboard the Carpathia. According to Jessop, the woman snatched the baby from Jessop’s arms and ran away with it.
World War I
When the ship hit the mine, Jessop was calm. She had been through disasters before and knew what to do. She helped another nurse prepare and then went to her cabin to gather together her possessions including her toothbrush — the thing she missed the most after the Titanic sank.
“I leapt into the water but was sucked under the ship’s keel which struck my head,” Jessop later wrote in her memoirs. “I escaped, but years later when I went to my doctor because of a lot of headaches, he discovered I had once sustained a fracture of the skull!”
Jessop died May 5, 1971, in Suffolk, England. She was the inspiration for characters in several Titanic movies.
Updated: 26 October 2020