French author Jules Verne was born on February 8, 1828. If you love science fiction, you can say merci to the man who popularized the genre with Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days among many, many others.
Verne was born in the harbor city of Nantes on the Western coast of France. His family vacationed in a summer house on the Loire. Between the two homes, he spent many hours studying the river traffic, which developed his two passions of adventure and travel. Writing fantastic tales often took priority over his studies, from his youth into early adulthood. In fact, when his father discovered that he was writing instead of studying law in Paris, he turned off the money faucet. Verne supported himself as a stockbroker while he continued to write. He got some writing advice from distinguished authors Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo.
Fortunately, Verne married a woman who was more supportive than his father. Verne continued to write tales of fantasy and adventure and to look for a publisher. Pierre-Jules Hetzel, Hugo’s publisher, took on Verne. Hetzel polished Verne’s stories into tales that would capture the public’s imagination. Hetzel wielded a heavy pen with his revisions, but Verne was so grateful to be published that he acquiesced to all of Hetzel’s “suggestions.” Verne’s most popular works were collectively released as Voyages Extraordinaires (voy-azj ex-tror-din-air), referred to in English as Amazing Voyages. As Verne became financially secure, he bought a boat to have the adventures he dreamed of as a boy.
He died of complications of diabetes on March 24, 1905. He’s remembered all over France by streets, squares and schools named after him. The restaurant in the Eiffel Tower also bears his name.
Long after his death, a stash of unpublished manuscripts turned up, including one named Paris in the Twentieth Century that described automobiles, calculators, skyscrapers, high-speed trains, and world-wide communication. These lost novels are being published one-by-one; they’re like little time-capsules from another century. I read Jules Verne’s classics when I was a kid; I’m curious to read these “new” adventures.
- Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (sarahsaysread.com)
- Berlin Hotel Inspired by Jules Verne – Design News 12.11.12 (apartmenttherapy.com)
- Off the Shelf: The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz by Jules Verne (nebraskapress.typepad.com)
- When Science Meets Fiction (blogs.scientificamerican.com)