Jacques Futrelle

Jacques Futrelle
Jacques Futrelle.JPG
Born Jacques Heath Futrelle
(1875-04-09)April 9, 1875
Pike County, Georgia
Died April 15, 1912(1912-04-15) (aged 37)
Atlantic Ocean - RMS Titanic
Occupation Mystery writer, journalist
Nationality American
Period 1905–1912
Genre Detective fiction
Spouse Lily May Peel (1895-1912) (his death)
Children Virginia Futrelle
Jacques Futrelle Jr

Jacques Heath Futrelle (April 9, 1875 – April 15, 1912) was an American journalist and mystery writer. He is best known for writing short detective stories featuring Professor Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen, also known as "The Thinking Machine" for his application of logic to any and all situations. Futrelle died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic.


Futrelle was born in Pike County, Georgia. He worked for the Atlanta Journal, where he began their sports section; the New York Herald; the Boston Post; and the Boston American, where, in 1905, his Thinking Machine character first appeared in a serialized version of the short story, "The Problem of Cell 13".

Futrelle left the Boston American in 1906 to focus his attention on writing novels. He had a harbor-view house built in Scituate, Massachusetts, which he called "Stepping Stones", and spent most of his time there until his death in 1912.[1]

His last work, My Lady's Garter, was published posthumously in 1912. Futrelle's widow inscribed in the book, "To the heroes of the Titanic, I dedicate this my husband's book", under a photo of her late husband.[1]

Personal life

In 1895, he married fellow writer Lily May Peel with whom he had two children, Virginia and Jacques "John" Jr.[1]


Returning from Europe aboard the RMS Titanic, Futrelle, a first-class passenger, refused to board a lifeboat, insisting his wife board instead, to the point of forcing her in. His wife remembered the last she saw of him: he was smoking a cigarette on deck with John Jacob Astor IV. Futrelle perished in the Atlantic, and his body was never found.[2][3]

On 29 July 1912, Futrelle's mother, Linnie Futrelle, died in her Georgia home; her death was attributed to grief over her son's death.[4]

In popular culture

  • Futrelle is used as the protagonist in Max Allan Collins' Disaster series novel The Titanic Murders (1999), about two murders aboard the RMS Titanic.[5]

Selected works


Short story collections

  • The Thinking Machine (1907)
    • "The Flaming Phantom"
    • "The Great Auto Mystery"
    • "The Man Who Was Lost"
    • "The Mystery of a Studio"
    • "The Problem of Cell 13" (1905)
    • "The Ralston Bank Burglary"
    • "The Scarlet Thread"
  • The Thinking Machine on the Case (1908), UK title The Professor on the Case
    • "The Stolen Reubens"


  • "The Problem of Cell 13" (1905)
  • The Gray Ghost. Perth Daily News, 30 September 1905
  • The Man Who Found Kansas. Metropolitan Magazine, April 1906
  • "The House That Was": The Grinning God, Part II (a literary experiment with Futrelle and his wife, in which The Thinking Machine provided a rational solution to the seemingly impossible and supernatural events of a ghost story written by May)[6]
  • "The Phantom Motor"[7]
  • Various other short stories (see Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen and JacquesFutrelle.com for more)


  1. ^ a b c Marks, Jeffrey A. "No Escape: Jacques Futrelle and the Titanic". Mystery Scene magazine. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  2. ^ "Biography: Jacques Futrelle". Encyclopedia Titanica.
  3. ^ "Futrelle Refused to Enter Lifeboat; His Wife Tells How He Parted with Her on Titanic, Commanding Her to Save Herself". The New York Times. April 19, 1912. p. 6.
  4. ^ "Futrelle's Mother is Dead; Sinks from Grief Following Loss of Son on the Titanic". New York Times. July 30, 1912. p. 1.
  5. ^ Colins, Max Allan (1999). The Titanic Murders. Berkley. ISBN 9780425168103.
  6. ^ Futrelle, Mrs. Jacques & Futrelle, Jacques. "The House That Was". The Grinning God (online ed.). Missing or empty |url= (help)CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Futrelle, Jacques. "The Phantom Motor". Jacques Futrelle. Archived from the original on 2016-02-26.

Further reading

External links