Professor Edwin William Friend

Edwin Friend, 28, was a United States citizen and graduate of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was traveling on board Lusitania with friend Theodate Pope hoping to gain the support of the English Society for Psychical Research for the founding of their own psychical research organization. When the ship was torpedoed, Friend, Pope, and Pope's maid Emily Robinson stuck together until they jumped from the ship. Only Theodate Pope survived. Edwin Friend was lost and his body was never recovered or identified.


Edwin Friend was a graduate of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts who had studied classics and Indic philology.  He continued to do graduate work at the University of Berlin and returned to the United States in 1911 on the Celtic.  Friend went on to teach at Princeton and then returned to Harvard to receive his final degree in philosophy.

The American Society for Psychical Research

Around 1913, Friend was appointed by Professor James Hyslop of Columbia University in New York City as his assistant and future successor to the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR).  Friend's salary of $2,000 a year was appropriated from a donation made to the organization by one of its founders and directors, Theodate Pope. Theodate appropriated Friend and his wife Marjorie for herself, housing them on Theodate's Hill-Stead estate in Farmington, Connecticut.  With further assistance from Theodate, Friend became editor of the Journal of the ASPR.  Hyslop sent Friend articles that were to be published, but instead, Friend opted to write articles about séances held in Farmington where Marjorie produced automatic writing while communicating with deceased members of the ASPR.  Enraged that his assistant was no longer under his control, Hyslop repossessed the editorship of the Journal of the ASPR.  Both Edwin Friend and Theodate Pope resigned from the board of directors in protest.


Edwin and Theodate would form their own psychical organization, and hoping to receive the backing of the English Society for Psychical Research, the two booked passage for the 1 May 1915 sailing of theLusitania.  Marjorie, 23 and pregnant at the time, would stay in the States.  While in England, Theodate and Edwin were to be guests of England's leading spiritualist, Sir Oliver Lodge.   Their tablemates during meals for this crossing would be Dr. James Houghton and Marie Depage, more concerned about finding decent medical help along the Western Front than in matters of psychic phenomena.  Edwin's cabin onboard was E-47, which cost $149.50. Edwin and Theodate were also guests at George Kessler's party on Thursday, 6 May.  At lunch the next day, they were sitting down to ice cream when a table companion joked that "he would hate to have a torpedo get him before he ate it."  Their conversation then turned to how slowly the ship was running, almost as "though the engines had stopped."  They then left the dining room as the orchestra was playing "The Blue Danube," exchanging greetings with Oliver Bernard, and went out onto the B Deck promenade.  


Edwin and Theodate, on the B deck promenade, agreed that the sea was a "marvelous blue" and very dazzling in the sunlight."  As they rounded the aft corner of the promenade, they heard an explosion.  Water and timbers "flew" past the deck, and Friend struck his fist with his hand and remarked, "By Jove, they've got us!" The two ran inside, missing a shower of soot, only to be thrown against the wall of a corridor as the ship listed ominously to starboard.  Recovering their balance, they headed toward the Boat Deck portside, where they and other friends had agreed to meet in the case of an emergency.  The deck was crowded.  Theodate and Edwin passed two crying women and heard an officer shout orders to stop lowering the boats and for passengers to go to B Deck level where the lifeboats would be hanging.  He was ignored. For a moment, before going down to B Deck, they saw a lifeboat being filled and lowered as the ship was still plowing ahead.  The lifeboat up-ended, spilling its load into the water (possibly lifeboat #12).  Sickened, the pair passed Margaret, Lady Mackworth and Dorothy Conner and went down to B Deck, starboard.  There, they watched another boat getting away safely, but as the ship was listing so far over and sinking so quickly, the Lusitania threatened to roll on top of the starboard lifeboats and anything or anyone on that side of the ship.  Theodate said to Edwin, "It's not a good place to jump from." Side by side and arms around each other's waists, the two made for the companionway leading back to the Boat Deck.  They passed Marie de Page, Dr. Houghton, and Matt Freeman along the way.  Up top, they saw a boat being filled rapidly and Friend told Theodate, "You better get in." Theodate refused to get in without Edwin and he in turn would not get into one as long as there were women still on the ship.  They made for the stern as water came over the forecastle and Theodate's maid, Emily Robinson, appeared before them. "Lifebelts!" Edwin suddenly exclaimed. Ducking into the nearest room, they found themselves three lifejackets.  Edwin tied them onto the women.  The ship was going so rapidly that they could see the funnels move and the bare steel of where the waterline began.  They had to jump. "You go first."  Theodate urged Friend. Edwin Friend grabbed a rope from a davit of a departed lifeboat and jumped.  Theodate and Emily waited for Edwin to come back up before they jumped.  Seconds later, Friend resurfaced, smiling and encouraging the two women to join him. Theodate lost track of Edwin after she jumped.  She survived, but Edwin and Emily did not.  Neither body was recovered. Theodate held several séances the following year where the spirits of Edwin Friend and Elbert Hubbard made appearances.  Edwin was reportedly "flushed" and thundering about the "dastardly deed" that ended his life.

Final chapter

Edwin's daughter Faith was born on 22 September 1915, and in the words of Marjorie Friend, "will always remain defective."  Marjorie believed that the grief over losing Edwin was the cause of Faith's disability.  Marjorie enrolled Faith in the Massachusetts School For the Feeble Minded at a rate of $364 a year up through 1924.  Marjorie's financial condition was such that she was said to have needed to have been supported by friends. In 1920 Marjorie remarried, this time to Eastman A. Weaver  She was granted $10,000 for her loss in 1924 and made the custodian of a $10,000 payment for Faith.  Marjorie is believed to have died in 1981.

Related pages

Edwin Friend at the Mixed Claims Commission

Links of interest

Encyclopedia Titanica: Lest We Forget - Part 2
Contributors: Jim Kalafus References: Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster.  G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1981. Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956. Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkeley Books, 2002. Smith, Sharon Dunlap.  Theodate Pope Riddle:  Her Life and Architecture.  Online.  <>

About the Author