The Sea Odyssey story was based on a letter written by a 10-year-old girl living in Kensington, to her father on board the Titanic. Peter Elson meets her great-nephew
MAY McMURRAY was just 10-years-old when she wrote her first – and last – letter to her dad William McMurray. A first class bedroom steward on the Titanic, he perished without ever seeing the letter when the ship sank on its maiden voyage.
Written in a beautiful, near-perfect copperplate hand May poignantly describes how lonely she is without her beloved “Dada” and her mother’s worries about her little brother.
“The letter was written on April 13 – the day before Titanic hit the iceberg,” says May’s great-nephew Nicholas Housley, 56.
“Poignantly, it arrived too late for her dad as Titanic had already sailed three days before from Southampton to New York and the letter was returned to her family home at 60 Empress Road, Kensington.”
The family later donated the moving letter to Merseyside Maritime Museum, where it caught the eye of Jean-Luc Courcoult, founder of France’s Royal de Luxe marionette street theatre company, and became the inspiration for Sea Odyssey.
Nicholas, a former Merseyside police officer, says: “The story has been refined from that in the letter, but Jean Luc Courcoult is emphatic that it inspired Sea Odyssey.
“I feel proud my great-aunt inspired this event and the public will be touched by the tender feelings of this 10-year-old girl to her beloved father.”
The impact of William’s death on the family was devastating. He left a wife, Clara, his son Ernest, aged three, and his daughters May, 10, and Ivy, seven – Nicholas’s grandmother.