Nellie Bly departs on her record-breaking trip around the world
Nellie Bly, an opinionated investigative journalist, was born in 1864 as Elizabeth Cochran into a wealthy jurist’s family just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She got her start, and pen name, at the Pittsburgh Dispatch, where an editor pulled her on board after she had written a fiery letter in response to a sexist article that appeared in the paper. After being thrown frivolous assignments related to traditional women’s interests, Nellie moved to New York City to write for the New York World. There, she garnered fame for herself when she wrote a stunning undercover piece on the cruel conditions at a local insane asylum. She continued to write politically charged exposés until she came up with the clever idea to make a trek across the globe, inspire by Jules Verne’s popular novel Around the World in Eighty Days. On November 14, 1889, Bly boarded the transatlantic liner Augusta Victoria at 9:40 am. Seventy-two days, six hours, eleven minutes, and fourteen seconds later, she returned to Hoboken, New Jersey, creating a new world record. Her travels, which did wonders for the paper’s readership, included a meeting with Jules Verne in Europe, then hops through the Suez Canal, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Japan. She became an instant celebrity and documented her adventure in a book. Later, Bly married a millionaire, retiring from journalism. Just before her death, however, poor finances forced her back into a career, but she died of pneumonia in 1922.
Why do you think going across the world was such a big accomplishment in 1889? Why do you think it would take so long as seventy-two days?