"Now I'm not just myself but a "Titanic Survivor." This is like being a hero, but heroes are supposed to do brave things and I didn't do one brave thing. The only reason I am alive is luck, like a game of Patience."
Dorothy Wilton[2]

That Fatal Night: The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilton is a historical fiction book in the Dear Canada series. It was published in September 2011 by Scholastic Canada. The book was written by Sarah Ellis, her third for the series.

Dorothy Wilton, survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, hesitantly recounts her experiences in her diary.


"For Carmen and Winnie"

Book description

"May 2, 1912
I am not going to write about the
Titanic disaster. I am not going to write anything more about it, or talk about it, or think about it. The newspaper man at the train station said, "You're part of history now, kid." I am not. I refuse. I am a schoolgirl, not some old person in history. But even though I do not want to write about the disaster, I am going to write about Wednesday, because it was not fair. The first thing that I want to say is that I am not one particle sorry."

"2 mai 1912
Je ne veux pas écrire au sujet du naufrage du Titanic. Je ne veux ni écrire à ce sujet ni en parler ni y penser. Le vendeur de journaux à la gare m'a dit : « Maintenant, tu appartiens à l'histoire, petite. » Je ne veux pas. Pas moi! Je suis une écolière, pas une espèce de vieil épouvantail comme dans les manuels d'histoire. Je ne veux pas raconter la catastrophe. Je vais plutôt écrire à propos de ce qui s'est passé mercredi, parce que ce n'est pas juste!


In May 1912, Dorothy Wilton is given a diary from her teacher, Miss Caughey, after being suspended for the rest of the school year. Miss Caughey instructs Dorothy to write about her surviving the Titanic, but Dorothy refuses and writes about why she was suspended. Irene Rudge, jealous of Dorothy's new notoriety, mercilessly tells her about what happened to the bodies of the drowned. Unknowingly, Dorothy slaps her, which causes Irene to fall and hurt her head.

Dorothy spends the following month writing stories about her time in England. Four months prior, Dorothy sails from Halifax with Miss Pugh, a employee at her father's bank. She arrives at Mill House, the home of her grandparents, Augusta and Henry. Dorothy passes the following months, getting to know her grandparents and playing with their housekeeper's children, Owen and Millie. She writes about these times with a profound fondness.

Finally, Dorothy resolves to write about the Titanic and starts by describing the cabin she stayed in. She also talks about how much she disliked Miss Pugh, who was prone to correct her. On board the ship, Dorothy and Miss Pugh are assigned to second-class cabins on D-deck and a stewardess named Beryl Cope. Dorothy devotes much of her time to exploring and becomes friends with Marjorie.

On their last night aboard, Dorothy throws Miss Pugh's belongings around their cabin, after a fight. Beryl wakes up Dorothy later and gets on a lifeboat with her, while Miss Pugh fusses about her curlers. After being rescued, Dorothy believes it is her fault that Miss Pugh died. Dorothy's parents arrange for Beryl to visit Nova Scotia. Beryl tells Dorothy that she had cleaned the room that night and Dorothy realizes that Miss Pugh's death was not her fault. Dorothy says goodbye to Beryl, who continues her work as a ship stewardess.


Main article: List of That Fatal Night characters
  • Dorothy Wilton, a twelve-year-old that survived the sinking of the Titanic. She struggles to report the events of that night as she writes in her diary.
  • Augusta and Henry Wilton, the "bohemian" grandparents of Dorothy. Their granddaughter visited them in England, before boarding the Titanic to go home.


Main article: Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis (born May 19, 1952 in Vancouver, British Columbia) is a Canadian children's author. She is known for her novels Pick Up Sticks, Out of the Blue, and Odd Man Out. Ellis has authored three Dear Canada books, including A Prairie as Wide as the Sea and Days of Toil and Tears.

In the "Author's Note", Ellis wrote about her Titanic research and how she became obsessed with facts about the ship. Ellis recounted several stories of real passengers that survived or perished. She ended by saying that "our Titanic" of this century "is still under construction."



  • OLA Best Bets (2011) - commended[5]
  • IODE Canada Violet Downey Award (2012) - shortlisted[6]
  • Chocolate Lily Book Award, BC Children's Choice (2012) - shortlisted[7]
  • Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award (2012) - shortlisted[8]
  • Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre (2012) - commended[7]


"The publisher would like to thank George Behe of Encyclopedia Titanica for his expert commentary on the text, and Barbara Hehner for checking additional details."


See also

v - e - dDear Canada

Orphan at My Door | A Prairie as Wide as the Sea | With Nothing But Our Courage | Footsteps in the Snow
A Ribbon of Shining Steel | Whispers of War | Alone in an Untamed Land | Brothers Far from Home | An Ocean Apart
A Trail of Broken Dreams | Banished from Our Home | Winter of Peril | Turned Away | The Death of My Country
No Safe Harbour | A Rebel's Daughter | A Season for Miracles | If I Die Before I Wake | Not a Nickel to Spare
Prisoners in the Promised Land | Days of Toil and Tears | Where the River Takes Me | Blood Upon Our Land
A Desperate Road to Freedom | A Christmas to Remember | Exiles from the War | To Stand On My Own
Hoping for Home | That Fatal Night | Torn Apart | A Sea of Sorrows | Pieces of the Past | A Country of Our Own
All Fall Down | Flame and Ashes | A Time for Giving | These Are My Words

External links

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