14 November 2014

Meatless Friday: Around the World Edition

Just because, I wanted to link to this interesting piece at Grantland about reporter Nellie Bly's circumnavigation of the globe in 72 days in 1889, following the example of Jules Verne.

72 Days, Six Hours, and 11 Minutes: How a Pioneering Journalist Won a Race Around the World in 1889

Near the beginning of Nellie Bly’s book Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, she describes an argument she had with a newspaper manager. The argument happened in 1888, so call it a year before she set out on her record-breaking journey around the globe, which started 125 years ago today, on November 14, 1889. It’s maybe worth keeping in mind that the late 1880s were not the easiest time to be a female journalist, not that there has ever been an easy time to be a female journalist, not even if you are a supernova of determination like Nellie Bly.

Anyway. In 1888, she went to her bosses at the New York World, Joseph Pulitzer’s paper, where she had talked her way into a job the previous year, and told them she wanted to circumnavigate the earth. Her idea was to try to beat the time of Phileas Fogg, the hero of Jules Verne’s massively popular 1873 novel Around the World in Eighty Days. She’d send dispatches back to the paper, make an adventure out of it. Her editor was in favor, but the World’s business manager — who liked the concept — wanted to send a man.

“It is impossible for you to do it,” he told her. “You are a woman and would need a protector.” Even if she could travel alone, he said, she’d want to take too much baggage. “There is no use talking about it,” he insisted. “No one but a man could do this.”

“Very well,” she said. “Start the man, and I’ll start the same day for some other newspaper and beat him.”

She was 24 when she said this. The next year, a few months after her 25th birthday, the paper said yes, and she set sail.

She brought one suitcase.

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2 comments:

Alison said...

That is really amazing. Good for her. I have to admit to being a huge Passepartout fan. There is nothing funnier than the history of the Mormons in Jules Verne's book. Still, I will have to check out the book by Nellie Bly.

St. Corbinian's Bear said...

Sometimes I hate being a mammal. My first thought was "hawt!" That's a Bear for you.