Jacques and Lily May Futrelle were both born in Georgia (Lily May in Atlanta in 1876; Jacques in Pike County in 1875), and both aspired to writing careers. They first met when Jacques was 18 and working as an aid to the business manager at the Atlanta Journal. Shortly thereafter, Jacques went off to Boston to write for the Boston Post, but he missed Lily May and returned home. 

Back in Atlanta, Jacques rejoined the Atlanta Journal where he was charged with developing the newspaper’s first sports department. He and Lily were married in July 1895 in her family home on Hilliard Street in Atlanta. 

The newlyweds soon moved to New York where Jacques took a job with the New York Herald as the paper’s telegraph editor, and then to Boston, where Jacques took a job on the editorial staff of the Boston American. Besides his newspaper work, Jacques wrote in a variety of genres, including science fiction and a few plays, but it was as a detective storywriter that he really found his niche. Lily had also found success with her writing career, publishing several magazine articles and novels.

In early 1912 they took an extended trip to Europe, during which Jacques wrote several magazine pieces. On the eve of their return to America, friends of the Futrelle’s gathered in London to celebrate Jacque’s 37th birthday. The party didn’t end until 3 am, and Jacques and Lily had to pack and head to Southampton to boardTitanic without getting any sleep.

Jacques and Lily May Futrelle's unfortunate trip home to America

While at sea, Jacques and Lily enjoyed the ease and luxury Titanic had to offer. On the Ship’s final night, they shared a gourmet meal with famous Broadway producer Henry Harris and his wife Renee. Lily retired early, but Jacques was in the smoking room when the Ship crashed into an iceberg. Jacque rushed into their stateroom, and told Lily to hurry and get dressed so that they might make their way to the boat deck. There they encountered a group of men with “smoke-blackened faces” standing and staring at Lily. She later wrote that, “They said nothing but their eyes seemed to say, ‘At least you have a chance, we have none.’”

As the lifeboats were loaded, Lily refused to leave her husband. But as the last of the lifeboats began to fill up he told her, “For God’s sake, go. It’s your last chance, go!” A Ship’s officer forced her into a lifeboat. “I didn’t want to leave Jacques,” Lily later recalled, “but he assured me that there were boats enough for all and that he would be rescued later.” Tragically, that proved untrue, and Jacques died in the disaster—his body was never recovered