Mark comments on the book’s history:
The first words of the book were written three years before its eventual publication in 2004; and fourteen years before the second edition in 2015. The original manuscript was largely finished by 2003 and delivered to the publisher in January 2004; it was published earlier than expected, in November 2014. As I wrote in the introduction to the second edition:
‘Although many of the events in this book took place more than one hundred years ago, Olympic’s history is still evolving. Researchers continue to unearth new information or documentation that improves our understanding, changes perspectives or adds to our knowledge of the ship and her life. The continuing analysis only improves our comprehension.
The original book’s goal was to draw attention to Olympic in her own right, rather than as the sister ship of one of the most famous ships in the world. To a large extent, it succeeded, and it won considerable praise. However, it was largely written fourteen years ago and appeared in print in 2004. Building on original research, it introduced a lot of new or previously little-known material, from small anecdotes to more substantial information: J. Bruce Ismay’s request to Cunard for working drawings of some Mauretania windows that would be suitable for Olympic, which sheds light on the degree of mutual cooperation that existed between the rival companies; Chief Engineer Bell’s report of the maiden voyage; detailed information about Cunard’s research into Olympic, based on designer assessments of her public rooms and interiors; an engineering viewpoint of her machinery and overall layout; and the notes Cunard’s naval architect, Leonard Peskett, made when he travelled onboard in August 1911, which provided an interesting insight to life at sea on Olympic during her first summer season. Anecdotes, extracts from diaries during peacetime, as well as previously unpublished accounts of life onboard during the war, all combined to shed new light on her career. Data of Olympic’s passenger carryings over the years, provided with generous assistance from other researchers, helped to illustrate the context in which she succeeded, and then the inevitable decline when new competitors and the Great Depression took their toll in the 1930s. Detailed accounts of the Hawke collision,the sinking of the U103, the Fort St George and Nantucket Lightship collisions all included new information or facts that were not widely known, even to the modern day exploration of the sunken lightship, for the first time in a single volume.
Now, the second edition is intended to add to our knowledge with the addition of other material and more rare illustrations. Much of it could only have been provided through the kind-hearted generosity of other researchers. In particular, the chapter covering the Hawke collision has been expanded, with additional testimony about the accident and information about the appeals that followed; rare photographs have been added covering the mutiny in 1912, and an interesting account of being at sea aboard Olympic just after the Titanic disaster; further information about the attempts to attack and sink the ship during her war service; new details about her post-war refit and service in the 1920s; the voyage of Ivan Poderjay in 1933, a man suspected of murdering his wife and disposing of her body through a porthole; more information about the events that led to the Cunard White Star merger and the cancellation of her cruise programme and schedule for 1935-36, which led to the ship’s retirement. New appendices include an explanation that there was an error in the maiden voyage crossing time reported in 1911, which led to the ship’s speed being understated; an analysis of the contribution first, second and third class made to revenues and profits; the recovery of her popularity after the Titanic disaster; a detailed chronology of the ship’s war service; a more detailed breakdown of passenger carryings over her career; new data comparing Olympic and her post-war running mates; a comparison tracking the fall from profit to loss in the early 1930s; and a detailed list of the ship’s commanders over her career. Altogether, the original book has been expanded from 320 pages with a 16 page colour section to 352 pages with a 16 page colour section, or a total increase from 336 to 368 pages.
When an article or book is published, its contents represent an understanding of those historical events at that particular moment in time. Historical discoveries are ongoing. Since the original book’s completion, I have had the pleasure of working with other researchers, and relatives of passengers or crew who shared generously information and photographs. This new edition of RMS Olympic: Titanic’s Sister takes advantage of the progress from the intervening decade and hopes to convey an even more accurate and complete picture of Olympic’s life and times, eighty years after she was withdrawn from service.’