Helen Churchill Candee Biography

Journalist, Author (1859–1949)
Helen Churchill Candee was a writer and a survivor of the RMS Titanic disaster.


Helen Churchill Candee was born on October 5, 1859, in New York City. A single mother, she supported herself and her child by writing. Her works include the early feminist book How Women May Earn a Living (1900). On April 10, 1912, Candee boarded the RMS Titanic in Cherbourg, France. After the doomed ship hit an iceberg on April 14, 1912, Candee made it into Lifeboat 6, along with the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown. Despite this experience, Candee continued to travel and write about her experiences. She died in 1949.

Early Life and Writing Career

World traveler and author Helen Churchill Candee, born Helen Churchill Hungerford in New York City on October 5, 1859, survived one of the deadliest sea accidents of the 20th century: She was aboard the infamous luxury liner, the RMS Titanic, when it sank in 1912.

One of Candee's earlier works as a writer was How Women May Earn a Living (1900), a groundbreaking piece at the time; the work advised women on how to support themselves without having to rely on a man. Candee was a single mother herself, with two children to care for from her marriage to Edward Candee. While she came from an affluent background, Candee did not have a lot of money of her own. Writing articles was her primary means of income, and she tackled a broad range of subjects, from politics to decorative arts.

Candee also wrote fiction, publishing the western novel An Oklahoma Romance in 1901. She followed with a nonfiction title, Decorative Styles and Periods in the Home, in 1906. Around this time, Candee lived in Washington, D.C. She spent some time abroad in the early 1910s, and chose to spend some time in Europe in early 1912. Mixing business with pleasure, she conducted some research for a book on tapestries.

'Titanic' Tragedy

On April 10, 1912, Candee boarded the RMS Titanic in Cherbourg, France. She was returning home after learning that her son, Howard, had been injured in an accident. As a single woman, she attracted a fair amount of attention from some of the unattached men on the ship. Among her admirers were architect Edward A. Kent, English sculptor Hugh Woolner and Colonel Archibald Gracie.

After a dinner and a concert, Candee returned to her cabin on the night of April 14, 1912. A short time later, around 11:40 p.m., the Titanic struck an iceberg. She was then told to get dressed and get on deck. Boarding Lifeboat 6, Candee joined the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown and some of the other passengers and crew to make her escape from the sinking vessel.

The lifeboat was under the command of quartermaster Robert Hitchens. After the Titanic sunk, Candee urged others on her lifeboat to return to where the sinking had taken place,?? according to Titanic: A Night Remembered, and several other passengers, including Brown, supported Candee's idea of searching for more survivors in the water. But Hitchens refused to go back.

On the morning of April 15, 1912, Candee and the rest of the passengers from Lifeboat 6 were rescued and brought aboard the Carpathia, a ship that answered the Titanic??'s distress call.

Final Years

Despite her first-hand experience with tragedy at sea, Candee continued to be an avid traveler. She wrote two books based on her travels in the Far East: Angkor the Magnificent: the Wonder City of Ancient Cambodia (1924) and New Journeys in Old Asia: Indo-China, Siam, Java, Bali (1927).

Helen Churchill Candee died in York, Maine, in 1949.

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