Jules Verne (1828-1905), noted French scientific author wrote Around the World in Eighty Days (1873), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea (1869);
"You like the sea, Captain?"
Through his series of Les Voyages Extraordinaires and the fantastic and detailed illustrations which accompanied them, Verne predicted the use of hydrogen as an energy source (in From the Earth to the Moon) and many future modern conveniences and technological inventions such as skyscrapers, submarines, helicopters, and airplanes. The pioneering ways of travel and exploration which he wrote so much about are now common-place for us, such as exploration of the moon, the north and south poles, and the use of hot air balloons for long-distance voyages. In his time Verne was a true inventor and visionary; the names of his inventions and characters such as Captain Nemo, Phileas Fogg, and the submarine Nautilus have entered, and remain, a part of our popular culture. Verne's works have been translated from the French to numerous languages but unfortunately in the earlier English editions much of his scientific detail is lost; they are often abridged, sometimes censored. Because of this, there is much mis-perception about Verne, and claims of racism and anti-semitism. Scholars continue to study Verne's life and works to bring to light the authentic man and his extraordinary vision of the future.
Jules Gabriel Verne was born on 8 February 1828 in Nantes, Pays de la Loire, France, the first of five children born to Sophie Henriette Allotte de la Fuye (d. 1887) and Pierre Verne (1799-1871), attorney. In the busy maritime port city and summers spent on the Loire River, Verne was exposed to the comings and goings of schooners and ships that sparked his imagination for travel and adventure. After attending boarding school during which he started to write short stories and poetry, Verne settled in Paris to study law, as his father had done. However, upon obtaining his degree in 1850, he was much more interested in theatre, to his father's disappointment. Living a bohemian life, he wrote and collaborated on numerous plays, dramas, and operettas including Blind Man's Bluff (1852), often collaborating with his friend and musician Jean Louis Aristide Hignard (1822-1897).
In 1857 Verne married Honorine de Viane Morel (1830-1910), a widow with two daughters, Suzanne and Valentine, and with whom Jules would have one child, Michel Jean Verne (1861-1925). Michel's early years were troubled and he accumulated much debt, which his father later re-paid. While not working at the Stock Market, Jules and Honorine traveled much in America, France, and the British Isles during which Verne met fellow authors Alexandre Dumas and his son, and Victor Hugo. While his novels had previously been rejected by publishers, after making the acquaintance of editor and publisher Pierre Jules Hetzel (1814-1886) Verne's literary career was launched. In 1863 Five Weeks in a Balloon or, Journeys and Discoveries in Africa by Three Englishmen was published to wide acclaim, the first of his "extraordinary adventures" series. It was soon followed by Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), and its sequel All Around the Moon (1870). Many of his novels were first serialised in Hetzel's Magazine d'Éducation et de Récréation
When not living in Amiens, Picardie, France, Verne and his wife spent much time sailing on his ship the Saint-Michel. His own adventures sailing to myriad ports in the British Isles, Portugal, the Netherlands, and the Mediterranean provided much fodder for his short stories and novels. The Adventures of a Special Correspondent (1872) was followed by The Mysterious Island (1875), The Survivors of the Chancellor (1875), Michael Strogoff (1876), and Dick Sand: A Captain at Fifteen (1878). In 1867 he travelled to America
In 1886 Verne's mentally ill nephew Gaston shot him, and thereafter he walked with a limp. In 1888 Verne was elected councillor of Amiens, a position he served faithfully for the next fifteen years. He also continued to travel and write and among his later publications are Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon (1881), Robur the Conqueror (1886), Ticket No. 9672 (1886), Facing the Flag (1896), and Master of the World (1904). After developing diabetes, Jules Verne died on 24 March 1905. He now rests in La Madeleine Cemetery in Amiens, Picardie, France, a massive marble statue of a man emerging from the earth reaching towards the sky adorning his grave. Michel oversaw the publication of numerous post-humous works of his father's including Paris in the Twentieth Century (written in the late 1850's, pub. 1994), The Lighthouse at the End of the World (1905), The Golden Volcano (1906), and The Hunt for the Meteor (1908).
The desire to perform a work which will endure, which will survive him, is the origin of man's superiority over all other living creatures here below. It is this which has established his dominion, and this it is which justifies it, over all the world.
Biography written by C. D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2008. All Rights Reserved.
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