In 1889, Nellie Bly launched on a trip around the world, attempting to turn the fictional Around the World in Eighty Days into fact, thereby proving that anything was possible in the modern world of travel and innovation. She vowed that she would best Phileas Fogg’s eighty-day record, or she would not return to New York. In spite of claiming she wanted to remain anonymous and that competition was unladylike, Elizabeth Bisland raced Nellie Bly around the world.
Published in 1873, Around the World in Eighty Days, was one of Verne’s most acclaimed works and one of Bly’s favorite adventure novels. In the story, Philieas Fogg of London and his valet wager with his gentlemen’s club that they can circle the globe in a hot air balloon in 80 days or less.
Hours after Nellie Bly set sail on an Eastward course, The New York Cosmopolitan sent its own reporter, Elizabeth Bisland, on an experimental mail train in the opposite direction to beat both Phileas Fogg and Nellie Bly. The stunt race won front-page headline for months.
Nellie Bly completed the trip in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds—setting a real world record, despite her fictional inspiration for the undertaking. Bisland’s ship did not arrive in New York until January 30, so she completed her trip in 76 1⁄2 days, also ahead of Fogg’s fictional record, but well behind Bly’s.
Both Bisland and Bly were bested a few months later by George Francis Train, who finished the trip in 67 days.
Join Bly in CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE, as she decides whether or not to take a detour to visit Jules Verne. She can get the story of a lifetime, but will it cost her the race?
Racing Nellie Bly
Victorian Secrets From Footnotes In History
Check out books by Nellie Bly: