"I hope that I can figure out some way to understand all of this. Why it happened, what could have prevented it, how to keep anything like this from ever taking place again. Most of all, I hope I can learn how to forgive myself for still being alive, when so many others are not."
—Margaret Ann writes about the Titanic disaster.[5]

Margaret Ann Ryan (née Brady; October 1899 – 1994) was born in the East End of London in England. Her parents died in 1907, orphaning her and her elder brother William. In 1910, her brother emigrated to the United States. Margaret Ann traveled on the RMS Titanic in 1912 as a traveling companion.


Early life

Margaret Ann was born in October 1899[1] in the Wapping district of East London, England.[2] She lived there with her parents and older brother, William, until their parents died sometime during 1907.[6] Margaret Ann and her brother stayed briefly with a neighbor, before leaving to live on the streets.

In December[7] 1907, William took Margaret Ann to live at St. Abernathy's Orphanage for Girls in the Whitechapel district. Margaret Ann had a hard time adjusting for a few months, until William began visiting her regularly. In 1910, William traveled to America on a cargo steamer to look for more work opportunities.


In March 1912, Margaret Ann was given the opportunity to board the RMS Titanic as a traveling companion to Mrs. Carstairs. In preparation for the trip, she was given a new wardrobe by Mrs. Carstairs, before boarding the ship on April 10 in Southampton, England. Margaret Ann spent the following days on the ship, exploring, walking Mrs. Carstairs' dog Florence, and becoming acquainted with their bedroom steward, Robert Merton.

On the night of April 15, the Titanic was struck by an iceberg and began to sink. After being alerted to the danger by Robert, Margaret Ann escorted Mrs. Carstairs and Florence safely to a lifeboat. She then stayed behind to look for Robert, who promptly walked her back to the deck, after saying a bittersweet goodbye. Margaret Ann was able to reach the last lifeboat and was subsequently saved several hours later by the RMS Carpathia.

Margaret Ann was reunited with Mrs. Carstairs on the Carpathia. The ship delivered the surviving Titanic passengers to New York on April 18. Mrs. Carstairs and Margaret Ann departed and never saw one another again, though they exchanged letters a few times. Not knowing what to do, Margaret Ann waited at the dock. She was eventually found there by her brother William.

Later life

Margaret Ann lived with William in a small apartment in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from high school and attended Wellesley College on a scholarship. Margaret dropped out to take care of William, who was wounded during World War I.

She met Stanley Ryan at a bookstore in Cambridge in 1923. They married in June of that year and were together for forty-four years. They had three children, including Dorothy, Harriet, and Robert. Margaret Ann spent much of her life volunteering for the community and later served as head of a halfway house for unwed mothers, before retiring in 1965. She died in her sleep at the age of ninety-five in 1994.

Personality and traits

Margaret Ann tended to say whatever came to mind in an attempt to be clever, which sometimes resulted in the wrong thing being said. Her sense of humor, which leaned towards sarcasm, was not appreciated by most and regarded by some as "impudent". She was also prone to mischief and had a voracious appetite. Mrs. Carstairs described her as "difficult" at one point.

She was familiar with poetry, including William Blake, Robert Browning, and John Keats. Margaret Ann also enjoyed reading novels and essays, such as those by Henry James and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Family tree

The Brady-Ryan Family Tree
Mr. Brady
(d. 1907)
Mrs. Brady
(d. 1907)
William Brady
(b. 1897)
Margaret Ann

Stanley Ryan
Dorothy Ryan
Harriet Ryan
Robert Ryan

Behind the scenes


Margaret Ann doll



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