By Emily Upton via todayifoundout.com
Today I Found Out about Violet Jessop, “Miss Unsinkable,” the woman who survived the sinking of the sister ships the Titanic and the Britannic, and was also aboard the third of the trio of Olympic class vessels, the Olympic, when it had a major accident.
Violet Jessop enjoyed incredible “luck” from a young age. Born in 1887 in Argentina to Irish immigrants, she contracted tuberculosis as a young child and was given just a few months to live. Somehow, she managed to fight the disease and went on to live a long, healthy life.
When her father passed away, her mother moved the family to Britain, where she took a job as a stewardess on a ship. While her mother was working, Violet attended a convent school. Unfortunately, her mother became ill, and to provide for her siblings Violet decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a ship stewardess herself.
The first in a long line of struggles for Violet was finding a ship that would take her. She was just 21 years old at the time and most women working as stewardesses in the early 1900s were middle-aged. Employers believed that her youth and good looks would be a disadvantage to her, “causing problems” with the crew and passengers. (Over the course of her career, she did get at least three marriage proposals while working on various ships, one from an incredibly wealthy first-class passenger.)
Eventually, Violet solved the problem by making herself look frumpy with old clothes and no make-up, and experienced more successful interviews after this. After a brief stint aboard the Orinoco, a Royal Mail Line steamer, in 1908, she was hired by the White Star Line.
Violet started out on the line’s Magestic, switching to the Olympic in 1910. Despite the long hours and minimal pay (£2.10 every month or about £200 today), she enjoyed working aboard the massive ship. She had initially had some concerns about the rough weather conditions while traveling across the Atlantic, but she reportedly liked that the Americans treated her more like a person while she served them.
It was just one year later when the trouble started. In 1911, the Olympic collided with the HMS Hawke (a ship designed to sink ships by ramming them). Both ships sustained considerable damage, including the Olympic having its hull breached below the water line, but miraculously didn’t sink. They were able to make it back to port, and Violet disembarked without being harmed.