Around the Word in Eighty Days
With a new stage show hitting London's West End, David Stuart Davies looks at Jules Verne's classic ...
"The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides."
Jules Verne was born on 08 February 1828 in Nantes, Western France. He was the oldest of five children and spent the majority of his early years at home with his parents. At the age of nine Verne and his brother were sent to boarding school at the Saint Donatien College.
From a young age Verne showed great interest in travel and exploration, a passion he exploited by writing adventure stories and science fiction. After completing his studies, Verne travelled to Paris to study law, and in 1848 he began writing liberettos for operettas. For some years his attentions were divided between the theatre and work, but some travellers’ stories which he wrote for the Musée des Familles revealed to him his talent for writing fiction.
When Verne's father discovered that his son was writing rather than studying law, he promptly withdrew his financial support. Verne was forced to support himself as a stockbroker, which he hated, despite being somewhat successful at it. During this period he met Alexandre Dumas who offered him writing advice and became a close friend. He also met Honorine de Viane Morel who became his wife in 1857.
While his novels had previously been rejected by publishers, after making the acquaintance of the editor and publisher, Pierre Jules Hetzel, 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 followed soon after by Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), and its sequel All Around the Moon (1870), Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1869 – 70) and The Mysterious Island (1874 – 5).
Many of his novels were first serialised in Hetzel's Magazine d'Éducation et de Récréation. When not living in Amiens, 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 inspiration for his short stories and novels. In the later years of his life Verne continued to travel and write. He died aged 77 on 24 March 1905 in Amiens, France.
After Jules Verne’s death, his son Michel Verne oversaw publication of the novels Invasion of the Sea and The Lighthouse at the End of the World.
TITLES BY JULES VERNE