The Insane Life Of Violet Jessop, Survivor Of The Titanic—And 2 More Shipwrecks

The Violet Jessop story is an incredible tale of survival. Who was Violet Jessop? She was a survivor of three ship disasters, including the Titanic. Jessop was a nurse and an ocean liner stewardess in the early 1900s. Most people would probably change professions after being involved in such terrifying incidents, but not Violet. Instead of quitting her job, she spent a good portion of her life working on the sea.

Born to Irish immigrants, she did not set out to work on a ship, but family circumstances forced her to seek employment on the ocean. Her first brush with disaster happened on the Olympic, but fortunately no one died. Then she joined the crew of the Titanic, where she purportedly saved a baby's life. Her third disaster involved the Britannic, yet she survived with just some bumps and bruises. To learn more about how this incredible woman led a daring life at sea, read on to discover fascinating Violet Jessop facts. 

  • She Nearly Died As A Child

    She Nearly Died As A Child
    Photo: Boylo / Wikimedia Commons

    Violet Constance Jessop was born in 1887 and raised in Argentina. Her parents, William and Katherine Jessop, were Irish emigrants who ran a sheep farm. Violet had five younger siblings and was very sick as a child. At a young age, she contracted tuberculosis and doctors told her parents their daughter would only live for a few months. However, she fought hard and recovered, going on to live a long life. 

  • Jessop Became A Stewardess At 21

    Jessop Became A Stewardess At 21
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons

    After her father died when she was 16, Violet and her family returned to Britain. Violet went to convent school and her mother became a stewardess for the Royal Mail Line. After her mother got sick, Violet left school when she was 21 to take care of her young siblings and to follow in her mother's footsteps. She worked for the Royal Mail Line and then reluctantly sought work with White Star, a line known for difficult passengers. 

  • Initially, No One Wanted To Hire Her Because She Was Young And Pretty

    Initially, No One Wanted To Hire Her Because She Was Young And Pretty
    Photo: Harland & Wolff Shipyard / Wikimedia Commons

    At first, she had a difficult time finding work because of her age. Most female stewardesses at the time were middle-aged. Employers didn't want Violet's youthfulness and beauty to distract the crew and passengers. In order to land a job, Violet tried to look older and not as pretty by wearing worn clothing and no makeup. She was eventually given a position, but she couldn't hide her good looks. While working as a stewardess, she got three marriage proposals.

  • She Worked 17 Hour Days On The Olympic

    She Worked 17 Hour Days On The Olympic
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons

    When Violet joined the White Star Line, she worked on the Majestic before switching to the Olympic. Her shift was 17 hours a day, with the meager pay of £2.10 per month (equivalent to about £200 in the 21st century). 

  • The HMS Hawke Collided With The Olympic In 1911

    The HMS Hawke Collided With The Olympic In 1911
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons

    During its fifth journey across the Atlantic ocean, the RMS Olympic collided with the HMS Hawke on September 20, 1911. Both ships sustained considerable damage. Passengers such as Violet were dropped off at Osborne Bay and forced to seek an alternative way to their destination. It took two weeks to repair the Olympic. The White Star Line strove to get the ship up and running as quickly as possible because they wanted to keep their reputation in tact. 

  • Friends Persuaded Violet To Work On Titanic

    Friends Persuaded Violet To Work On Titanic
    Photo: Robert John Welch / Wikimedia Commons

    Despite being involved in a collision on the RMS Olympic, Violet liked working on the ship. However, her friends told her they thought it would be a "wonderful experience" if she switched to the Titanic. In her memoirs, Jessop recalled how she "dressed in a new ankle-length brown suit" and traveled in a horse-drawn carriage to the berth in Southampton to begin her new adventure on the Titanic.