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On Titanic Wife Chose to Die With Husband: Lewis Lapham

Lewis Lapham, of
Lewis Lapham, of "Lapham's Quarterly," in New York. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

March 17 (Bloomberg) -- In April 1912, among the first-class passengers on the RMS Titanic were Isidor Straus, co-owner of Macy’s department store, and his wife, Ida, returning from a trip to Germany.

(To listen to the podcast, click here.)

Fellow Titanic passenger Lady Duff Gordon said the two adored each other and told her that in their long years of wedded life -- they married in 1871 -- they’d “never been separated for one day or night.”

When the ship began sinking, the elderly pair was offered a place in a lifeboat, but Straus refused, saying he did not wish to be singled out for special favors while women and children waited.

Ida Straus had stepped into the boat, but climbed out again, saying, “Where you go, I go.” The two calmly sat on deck chairs until a wave washed over them.

I spoke with Richard Davenport-Hines, author of “Voyagers of the Titanic,” on the following topics:

1. Shipboard Microcosm

2. Layer Cake Structure

3. Women First

4. World Stage

5. Thousands in Water

To buy this book in North America, click here.

(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)

To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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