Morgan Andrew Robertson was an American author of short stories and novels, best known for his Futility, later published as The Wreck of the Titan, or a compound title. The prescient fiction published in 1898 was about the catastrophic sinking of an "unsinkable" ocean liner, eerily similar to the drop of the Titanic fourteen years later.
Morgan Robertson was the son of Andrew Robertson, a ship captain on the Great Lakes. Morgan also went to sea as a cabin boy and was in the merchant service from 1876 to 1899. He rose to the first mate but then decided to study jewelry making at Cooper Union in New York City and worked for ten years as a diamond setter. When that work began to damage his vision, he turned to writing sea stories and placed his work in magazines like McClure's and the Saturday Evening Post.
One of his first novellas, Futility, became prophetic. The story features the fictional ocean liner Titan, which sinks in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg resulting in the loss of almost everyone on board. The story was published 14 years before the actual Titanic, carrying an insufficient number of lifeboats, hit an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912.
In 1905, Robertson's book The Submarine Destroyer described a submarine that used a device called a periscope. Robertson self-proclaimed himself the inventor of the periscope, but he was refused a patent. The main reason was that Simon Lake and Harold Grubb had perfected the model used by the U.S. Navy by 1902, three years before the "visionary" novel.
Morgan Robertson also penned the short story Beyond the Spectrum (1914), which described a future war between the United States and the Empire of Japan. The title refers to an ultraviolet searchlight used by the Japanese but invented by the Americans, to blind American forces.
Robertson also authored Primordial / Three Laws and the Golden Rule, a novella about shipwrecked children growing up together and falling in love on a desert island.
Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs acknowledge Robertson's contribution to the works of Henry De Vere Stacpoole, particularly The Blue Lagoon. They believe that both Robertson's and Stacpoole's writings influenced Burroughs in the creation of Tarzan of the Apes.
Morgan Robertson died in 1915 at 53. He was found dead in his room at the Alamac Hotel in New Jersey.