Jules Verne

Jules Verne

ules 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).


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