Five Facts About Futurist Father of Science Fiction, Jules Verne

Father of science fiction Jules Verne has been dead for over a hundred years, but his work remains as popular as ever. His novels 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Round the World in Eighty Days, Journey to the Center of the Earth have all inspired successful movies, and still inspire readers and writers today. (Buy all three in a new collection available from Everyman’s Library) In some ways, Verne was as fascinating as his stories. Here are five facts about the author:

1. Jules Verne, Would-Be Attorney At Law:
Verne originally studied to become an attorney, but soon discovered a love of writing. His dad was none too pleased, and cut off his son’s funding. In order to support his writing career, Verne became a stockbroker. (I’m starting to wonder what it might be like to be Captain Nemo’s attorney. How would you find a jury? Who would be in it? Sharks? Flounders?)

2. Jules Verne, Theater Lover:
Verne loved the theater, and struggled for about a decade as a playwright. His theater career never took off, and he turned his attention to writing fiction. The rest, as they say, is history. Ironically enough, Verne’s novels have been great movie fodder, and have been successfully adapted by others for the theater many times.

3. Jules Verne, a Connected Guy:
Verne knew Three Musketeers author Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo, author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He received encouragement and writing advice from both. He also knew famous balloonist and photographer Alex Nadar. Verne probably got some of the technical details used in his first novel Five Weeks in a Balloon from Nadar. The book was successful enough that he was able to quit work as a stockbroker to devote his time to writing.

4. Jules Verne, Futurist:
Verne imagined many things that would become realities in the future: Video conferencing and lunar modules, among many others.Verne himself didn’t live long enough to see these inventions, but his writing certainly did. In 1989, his great grandson discovered an unpublished manuscript. Its title? Paris in the Twentieth Century. As you would expect of Verne, the novel was full of futuristic technologies that had actually been invented by the time it was discovered in the real twentieth century: skyscrapers, worldwide communications networks and many others.

5. Jules Verne, Gunshot Survivor:
In 1886, Verne was shot by his mentally ill nephew Gaston. The bullet struck his shin, and Verne walked with a limp for the rest of his life. Gaston was sent to an asylum.