This year for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m writing about the 1800s in celebration of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s race around the world in 1889, the subject of my new novel based on this adventure: Liz and Nellie.
Today I’m thrilled to welcome back guest blogger Rosemary J Brown, fellow Nellie Bly enthusiast. She not only enjoyed reading about Nellie Bly’s race around the world, but she put boots to her devotion and actually traveled Nellie’s route in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the race. If you’ve been enjoying these A to Z posts about Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, then visiting Rosemary’s website Nellie Bly in the Sky is a must. You will not be disappointed.
Nellie risked a time-guzzling deviation only 8 days into the race, sacrificing two nights of sleep, to accept an invitation to the home of Jules Verne – the author of Around the World in 80 Days – who inspired her own voyage. It meant going to Amiens, France.
“Oh how I should love to see them,” she said upon learning of the invitation once she arrived in London.
Two days later she received a memorable welcome from Jules and Honorine Verne. “Jules Verne’s bright eyes beamed on me with interest and kindliness, and Mme. Verne greeted me with the cordiality of a cherished friend,” Nellie recalls. “Before I had been many minutes in their company, they had won my everlasting respect and devotion.”
Nellie’s visit with the Vernes lives on today at the Maison Jules Verne, a living tribute to the French author attracting visitors from around the world. Many rooms reflect the descriptions in Nellie’s own book Around the World in 72 Days.
While at the Maison Jules Verne, I was quite literally following in Nellie’s footsteps for the first time. Nellie Bly and I were in the same room …separated by 125 years. I felt so close to her.
Nellie’s description of the Verne’s salon is framed and hung there for all to read:
“The room was large and the hangings and paintings and soft velvet rug, which left visible but a border of polished wood, were richly dark. All the chairs artistically upholstered in brocaded silks, were luxuriously easy…”
Nellie visited the author’s study by candlelight. It remains today just as she saw it. She was surprised by its modesty. So was I. “One bottle of ink and one penholder was all that shared the desk with the manuscript.” The tidiness of his manuscript impressed Nellie giving her the idea that “Mr Verne always improved his work by taking out superfluous things and never by adding.” Great advice for all writers.
Before she knew it, it was time to leave her new friends the Vernes. They shared a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire before bidding each other farewell.
The race was on.
Jules and Honorine Verne diligently followed Nellie’s progress around the globe and sent her a congratulatory telegram when she reached America. That fleeting visit made a lasting impression.