Famous Meetings in History Nellie Bly Meets Jules Verne
About the meeting of the famous author of Around the World in 80 Days Jules Verne and the American reporter who made the journey in under 80 days Nellie Bly, history and account of the meeting.
Nellie Bly Meets Jules Verne
Where: Amiens, France
Who: In the year of the meeting, French novelist Jules Verne, aged 61, was world-famous for his science-fiction books, including Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days. Three years earlier he had been shot in the leg by a deranged nephew, and he now walked with a limp and was in virtual retirement. Nellie Bly--her real name was Elizabeth Cochrane--was already the best-known female reporter in America. Working for Joseph Pulitzer and the New York World, she had feigned insanity in order to get committed to Blackwell's Island so that she could expose the conditions in that asylum. Having read how Verne's fictional Phileas Fogg had gone around the world in 80 days, 22-year-old Nellie Bly decided to make the same journey in real life in less than 80 days and write about it. With the blessings of the World and carrying two light satchels, a gillie cap, flannel underwear, a bankbook, a 24-hour watch, and a goodluck ring, she headed by ship for England.
What Led to the Meeting: The meeting between Nellie Bly and Jules Verne had been prearranged. She had asked for it. She thought it would be a great stunt to meet the author of the fictional character whose record she was trying to break. She went 180 mi. out of her way to see Verne, and she had less than three hours to talk to him. But she knew it was a good story. And it was.
What Happened: Jules Verne and his wife and an interpreter greeted Nellie Bly at the Amiens railroad station. Verne was astonished at her youth. "Is it possible that this child is traveling around the world alone? Why, she is a mere baby." he said. Verne took her in his carriage to his fieldstone home and settled her in the sitting room. Since many of Verne's books had American settings. Bly wondered if he had actually ever visited the U.S. "Yes, once for a few days," he answered, "during which I saw Niagara Falls. Magnificent!" He added that his health prevented him from traveling much anymore, but that at one time he had owned a yacht and had used it to seek out new backgrounds for his books. He was curious about Nellie Bly's route around the world. Where was she going? She replied, "London, Calais, Brindisi, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, Aden, Colombo, Penang, Singapore, Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, and back in New York in just 75 days." Verne said, "But why do you not go to Bombay as Phileas Fogg did?" She smiled. "Because I am anxious to save time, not a young widow." He countered, "Well, you may save a young widower before you return." Verne showed Nellie Bly his study, and on a map of the world he pointed out the trip his imaginary Phileas Fogg had taken. Before Nellie Bly departed, Verne said to her, "If you do it in 79 days, I shall applaud with both hands. But 75 days--mon Dieu--that would be a miracle." He wished her well, but in his judgment felt she would not better Phileas Fogg's record of 80 days.
Jules Verne was wrong. Nellie Bly made it around the world--24,899 mi.--in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes.
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