Jan 22 201514 Nellie Bly Versus Phileas Fogg

Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days is not strictly science fiction, but it is a book that speculates about technology (specifically steamships and railroads) and what it’s capable of. Verne’s 1973 novel made the eighty day time look like something of an impossible feat, but in 1890 Nellie Bly, a reporter for the New York World beat fictional record set by Phileas Fogg. Bly set out to best Verne’s protagonist, and circumnavigate the globe in 75 days. She did even better than that, though, and went all the way around the planet in 72 days, doing Fogg better by more than a week.

The World front page

Related Links:

Read Around the World in 72 Days online.

Phineas Fogg Outdone in the Daily Alta California

View a┬ámap of Bly’s journey from American Experience.

Jan 15 201513 Nellie Bly and the Asylum

In 1880s New York Nellie Bly (born Elizabeth Jane Chochrane)reported on the conditions inside an insane asylum by pretending to be mentally ill and getting herself checked into one. Bly’s account of Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum caused a sensation when it was published in the New York World, detailing poor conditions for the inmates, abuse by the asylum staff, and virtually no way to get off the island once one was brought there.

The photo below shows the asylum on Blackwell Island in 1893, about six years after Nellie Bly’s visit.

468 NEW-YORK CITY ASYLUM FOR THE INSANE (WOMAN) BLACKWELL'S ISLAND

Related Links:

Listen to Nelly Bly, the Stephen Foster Song from Which Elizabeth Jane Cochran took her pen name.

Read Ten Days in a Madhouse online, or listen to it as an audiobook on YouTube.

Into the Madhouse With Nellie Bly: Girl Stunt Reporting in Late Nineteenth-Century America (requires login)