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Jules Verne was a 19th century French author whose revolutionary science-fiction novels, including Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, have entranced readers for more than a century.
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Often referred to as the "Father of Science Fiction," Jules Verne wrote his first novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon, at the age of 35. He went on to be the second most translated author on earth, writing books about a variety of innovations and technological advancements years before they were practical realities.
"We may brave human laws, but we cannot resist natural ones."
"Liberty is worth paying for."
Jules Verne was born on February 8, 1828, in the city of Nantes, France, a busy maritime port city. There, Verne was exposed to schooners and ships departing and arriving, sparking his imagination for travel and adventure. While attending boarding school, he began to capture his imagination in short stories and poetry. After Verne left boarding school, his father sent him to Paris to study law, as he himself had done before.
While in Paris, instead of immersing himself in the law, Verne found himself attracted to the theater, and after obtaining his law degree and setting up a practice in 1850, he began writing numerous plays, dramas and operettas.
Encouraged by his friend, Alexandre Dumas (author of The Three Musketeers), Verne began a ten-year period living as a playwright, giving up the law entirely (much to the chagrin of his father). He produced a group of not terribly successful stage plays, including The Companions of the Marjolaine and Blind Man's Bluff (both around 1850). With his plays not generating enough income to live comfortably, Verne became a stockbroker to support himself. The job meant little to Verne, but it provided him with enough financial stability to marry Honorine de Viane, a young widow with two daughters, in 1857. That same year, he published his first book, Le Salon de 1857 ("The 1857 Salon").
In 1859–1860, Verne and his wife took the first of about 20 trips to the British Isles, and the trip ended up being quite influential, inspiring Verne to write Voyage en Angleterre et en Écosse ("Backwards to Britain"). In 1861, his and Honorine's only child, Michel Jean Pierre Verne, was born.
While his novels had previously been roundly rejected by publishers, Verne's luck would soon change, along with the genre in which he began to write. After making the acquaintance of editor and publisher Jules Hetzel, who would become Verne's champion, Verne's literary career truly began, with the 1863 publication of Five Weeks in a Balloon (serialized in Hetzel's Magazine d'Éducation et de Récréation, as most of his works were). The book garnered wide acclaim, but poor sales. Regardless of the revenue created by the book, Verne knew that he had finally found his place in the world. He then immersed himself in his work with unbridled enthusiasm, and over the course of the next ten years, he would create many of his classic novels.
Around this time, Hetzel introduced Verne to Felix Nadar, a veritable renaissance man, who in turn introduced Verne to his circle of scientific friends. Meetings among this group surely influenced Verne while writing his scientific stories, and later, when Nadar founded the Society for Encouragement of Aerial Locomotion by Means of Heavier-Than-Air Craft, Verne was listed as a board member.
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