His­tory an­swers

Did Nel­lie Bly re­ally travel around the world in 80 days?

All About History - - CONTENTS - Ge­orgina Mon­roe

Your ques­tions an­swered

No – she did it in 72. Af­ter read­ing the Jules Verne novel Around The World In 80 Days, Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist El­iz­a­beth Jane Cochrane, who wrote un­der the pseu­do­nym Nel­lie Bly, pitched the idea of do­ing it for real to the New York World in 1889.

The news­pa­per’s edi­tor dis­missed her, say­ing a woman would be un­able to make such a trip. Bit­ing back,

Nel­lie replied, “Very well. Start the man and I’ll start the same day for some other news­pa­per and beat him.” The edi­tor backed down and agreed to fund the jour­ney. De­part­ing New Jersey on 14 Novem­ber

1889, Bly reached Hong Kong on Christ­mas Day. Here she dis­cov­ered that not only had Cos­mopoli­tan dis­patched their own reporter, El­iz­a­beth Bis­land, to race her, but that they were three days ahead of her. How­ever,

Bis­land missed a vi­tal con­nec­tion in Eng­land. Bly beat her home by four days, com­plet­ing her cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of the globe on 25 Jan­uary 1890.

How­ever, while we to­day as­so­ciate Phileas Fogg, the hero of Verne’s novel, with trav­el­ling in a hot air bal­loon, this doesn’t ac­tu­ally hap­pen in the book.

In­stead it was per­pet­u­ated by the 1956 movie.

Equally, Bly did not fly – she trav­elled mostly by steamship and train.

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