London, Aug 21 : The tragic romance between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Hollywood blockbuster 'Titanic' was inspired from a true story of love and self sacrifice that took place on the doomed 1912 ship, according to a relative of a survivor.
Joanna Wood said her great aunt, Roberta Maioni, was a maid who fell in love with a young steward who sacrificed himself for her as the ship sank.
After the ship struck an iceberg on the evening of April 14, 1912, Wood said that the man gave up his lifejacket and place on a lifeboat for 21-year-old Maioni.
As he helped her on to the lifeboat he gave her his White Star Line badge to remember him by.
Maioni and her employer, Countess Lucy Rothes, were among those rescued by a nearby ship, Carpathia, and they travelled on to New York.
"The crew member who gave the White Star badge to Roberta also gave her his lifejacket and put her in the lifeboat. There's a direct link between Roberta's story and the film. I think they used it as the inspiration for the film," the Daily Express quoted Wood, as saying.
Wood, from Totnes, Devon, said her great aunt never forgot her short-lived romance aboard the Titanic.
She said that the events, when more than 1,500 people died, shaped her life.
Maioni's story was published in a newspaper in the 1920s, which Wood believes may have helped inspire the fictional storyline in the film, although other affairs have been suggested as the source.