On November 14, 1889, Nellie Bly set sail to beat the fictional record set by Jules Verne in his novel, Around The World In Eighty Days. In the classic story, Phileas Fogg of London makes a wager of £20,000 with his friends at his Reform Club. He must circumnavigate the globe in eighty days or less, or pay up. Fogg brings his newly employed French Valet Passepartout to help him on the adventurous journey. Following are some of our favorite Jules Verne facts and myths from Around the World in Eighty Days.
Phileas Fogg does not travel in a hot air balloon in Around the World In Eighty Days. Yes, there is a mention of such travel in Chapter 32, but the idea is dropped. The iconic symbol of the hot air balloon became associated with Jules Vernes book in the 1956 film starring David Niven.
Nellie Bly is often associated with hot air balloons. Joseph Pulitzer attempted to create a news story with a hot air balloon trip between New York City and St. Louis, where he owned his newspapers. Nellie Bly appealed to Pulitzer to be a journalist inside the balloon, but she supposedly never heard back from him. It was probably a good thing, because the story flopped along with the balloon.
Jules Verne characters did travel in a hot air balloon in his novel, Five Weeks In A Balloon. Published in 1863, the adventure novel was also known as Journeys And Discoveries In Africa By Three Englishmen. Exploration of Africa was a hot topic that year and the book was a big hit.
Jules Verne became financially independent thanks to this title. He was able to quit his job as a stockbroker in order to write full time. He also got a contract with Jules Hertzels publishing house, assuring his ongoing success.
The book became the first in what became Jules Vernes series of Extraordinary Voyages. In this high adventure story, the characters travel 4,000 over Africa in a balloon.
A film based on the book was made in 1962. It starred Red Buttons, Barbara Eden and Fabian.
Jules Verne was definitely not the first to dream of circumnavigating the globe. The idea appeared in writings as early as 100 AD with the Greeks. Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri wrote Voyage Around The World in 1699 (translated to French in 1719).
In Vernes day, so many people had set out to circle the globe that it became part of the zeitgeist. William Perry Fogg travelled around the globe from 1869 to 1871. He wrote a series of articles about his adventures for The Cleveland Leader.
Even Thomas Cook organized a trip for tourists to circle the globe. The seven-month adventure launched on September 20, 1872. Jules Verne said his inspiration for the book was a newspaper article. In the story Phileas Fogg the character was inspired by an article as was Verne.
Technological innovations of the Victorian Era set the stage for Verne, Fogg and later for Nellie Bly to say bon voyage. Among these:
-The First Transcontinental Railway was completed in America, 1869.
-The Suez Canal opened in 1869.
-Railways linked the continent of India in 1870.
In the novel, the trip ends on December 21, 1872. According to William Butchers exceptional introduction to the novel for Oxford Worlds Classics, Vernes publisher launched the serial publication on the same date. Some railway companies lobbied Verne to appear in the book. It is unknown if Verne submitted to their requests, but the descriptions of some rail and shipping lines leave some suspicion he was influenced.
The Jules Verne Trophy is the prize awarded to the team that circumnavigates the globe fastest in any type of yacht with any size crew. Banque Populaire V holds the current record. Under the guidance of skipper Loick Pevron, the yacht circled the world in 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.
The first record was set in 1993. Each time the record is broken, a ceremony is held in which the old record holder hands the Jules Verne Trophy to the new winner.
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