Jules Gabriel Verne
Relevant Non-Istrians


ules Gabriel Verne,  nicknamed "The Father of Science Fiction", was born on February 8, 1828 at Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, Pays-de-la-Loire, France, to Pierre Verne, a prosperous attorney, and his wife Sophie. science fiction writer

born in Pay-de-le-Loire, France

The oldest of the family's five children, he spent his early years at home with his parents on a nearby island in the Loire River. This isolated setting helped to strengthen both his imagination and the bond between him and his younger brother Paul. When Jules was nine, the pair were sent to boarding school at the Nantes lycée. There Jules studied Latin, which was later used in his short story Le Mariage de Monsieur Anselme des Tilleuls (mid-1850, not yet translated into English).

From the family's summer house on the island, young Jules could look out and see the great docks and shipbuilding facilities of the region. Jules prided himself at having grown up "in the center of maritime life of a great commercial city, port of call of innumerable long voyages." He watched the great clipper ships and three masted schooners come and go as he used his imagination to climb their masts and ride the great vessels to foreign ports of call.

For a franc, Jules and his younger brother Paul would rent a boat for the day and go sailing behind their summer house. It was during one of these times that Jules found himself stranded about 30 miles downstream when a plank came lose and the boat sank. Stuck on a small islet, he was forced to wait until low tide to wade across to the mainland and walk home. The incident was embellished by an early biographer into an attempt by the young Verne to sail off across the Atlantic as a cabin boy on a ship headed for the West Indies, only to be rescued by his father at the last moment. The tale, while a favorite with Verne fans, shows not the slightest sign of being true.

Verne's father, wishing to see his son follow in his own footsteps and that of his father, sent him to Paris to study law. While there he found himself attracted to the theater. About 1848, in conjunction with Michel Carre, he began writing librettos for operettas. When Jules' father discovered that his son was writing rather than studying law, he promptly withdrew his financial support. Consequently, Jules was forced to support himself as a stockbroker, which he hated, although he was a success at it. During this period, he met the authors Alexandre Dumas (author of The Three Musketeers) and Victor Hugo, who offered him some advice and encouragement on his writing.

Over the next ten years, he wrote a  series of not terribly successful works for the stage - the first being produced in 1850 - including The Companions of the Marjolaine and Blindman's Bluff. For some years his attentions were divided between the theatre and his stock brokerage work, but some travellers' stories which he wrote for the Musée des Familles seem to have revealed to him the true direction of his talent: the telling of delightfully extravagant voyages and adventures to which cleverly prepared scientific and geographical details lent an air of verisimilitude.

It was during this period that he also met Honorine de Viane Morel, a widow with two daughters. They married on January 10, 1857. With her encouragement, he continued to write and actively try to find a publisher. On August 4, 1861, their son and only child, Michel Jean Pierre Verne was born. A classic enfant terrible, he married an actress over Verne's objections, and had two children by his underage mistress. Michel died in 1925.

Verne's situation improved when he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, one of the most important French publishers of the 19th century, who published also Victor Hugo, George Sand, and Erckmann-Chatrian, among others. Hetzel read a draft of Verne's story about the balloon exploration of Africa, which had been rejected by other publishers on the ground that it was "too scientific". With Hetzel's help, Verne rewrote the story and in 1863 it was published in book form as Cinq semaines en ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon). It was the first Verne novel in which he perfected the "ingredients" of his later work - collectively known under the title Les Voyages Extraordinaires - skillfully mixing a plot full of adventure and twists that hold the reader's interest with passages of technical, geographic, and historic description. The book gives readers a glimpse of the exploration of Africa, which was still not completely known to Europeans of the time, with explorers traveling all over the continent in search of its secrets.

Portrait de Jules Verne et de sa femme Honorine, vers 1905, par le photographe H. Thiriat paru dans la revue l'Illustration. © Collection Karbine-Tapbor.

When he set out to write Five Weeks in a Balloon, Verne had no knowledge of ballooning, nor had he ever been to Africa. He probably drew heavily on the writings of others including Edgar Allan Poe's The Balloon Hoax, a story about a group of Englishmen who accidentally cross the Atlantic in a balloon, and Poe's The Unparalleled Adventures of One Hans Pfaall, a tale about a trip to the moon in a balloon.

To make his accounts of Africa realistic, Verne undoubtedly relied on magazines such as Louis Hachette's Le Tour du Monde-Nouveau Journal des Voyages. This weekly publication contained articles on explorations around the world and included maps, illustrations of ships, and descriptions of customs in remote locations. These details would have certainly been invaluable to Verne in fleshing out his novel.

In 1863, he also wrote a novel called Paris in the 20th Century about a young man who lives in a world of glass skyscrapers, high-speed trains, gas-powered automobiles, calculators, and a worldwide communications network, yet cannot find happiness, and comes to a tragic end. Hetzel thought the novel's pessimism would damage Verne's then booming career, and suggested he wait 20 years to publish it. Verne put the manuscript in a safe, where it was discovered by his great-grandson in 1989. It was published in 1994. Verne later critized H.G. Wells for inventing cavourite, a substance impervious to gravity, for his The First Men in the Moon (1901). Verne thought that Wells violated a cardinal rule that the logic of the story must not contradict contemporary scientific knowledge: "I sent my characters to the moon with gunpowder [From the Earth to the Moon, 1865], a thing one may see every day. Where does Mr. Wells find his cavourite? Let him show it to me!"

Verne became wealthy and famous. From 1863 on and for nearly a quarter of a century, scarcely a year passed in which Hetzel did not publish one or more of his stories. In 1864 came Verne's third novel and the first to carry the Les Voyages Extraordinaires title, Journeys and Adventures of Captain Hatteras, whereas the most successful of the Voyages include: Voyage au centre de la terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864); De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865); Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers (20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, 1869); and Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days), which first appeared in Le Temps in 1872. After his first novel, most of his stories were first serialized in the Magasin d'Education et de Recreation, a Hetzel biweekly publication, before being published in the form of books. His brother, Paul Verne, contributed to the 40th French climbing of the Mont-Blanc, added to his brother's collection of short stories Doctor Ox in 1874. He remains the most translated novelist in the world, in 148 languages, according to the UNESCO statistics.

In the generation after Dumas, Jules Verne wrote a number of Wanderer adventures, and adventure subgenre. Three of the most notable, Michael Strogoff, the Steam House (La machine a vapeur) and Mathias Sandorf, are set in three of Europe's great Empires: the Russian, the British (in India) and the Austrian. Mathias Sandorf starts off in Trieste and traverses Istria, as well as Dalmatia where the author had sailed the Adriatic Sea in his boat name Sna Miche III. Their plots and themes have a good deal in common, as Jean Yves Tadie points out. Each one is about the empire's political troubles, each features a pursuer who is himself pursued, each has a trio of characters at its centre and each grants minor importance (compared with other Verne books) to machinery. {Source: Seven Types of Advenutre: An Eniology of Major Genre by Martin Green Penn State Press}

On March 9, 1886, as Verne was coming home, his nephew, Gaston, charged at him with a gun. As the two wrestled for it, it went off. The second bullet entered Verne's left shin. He never fully recovered. Gaston spent the rest of his life in an asylum..

After the deaths of Hetzel and his beloved mother in 1887, Jules began writing works that were darker, such as a story of a lord of a castle infatuated with an opera singer who turns out to be just a hologram and a recording, and others concerned with death. In 1888, he entered politics and was elected town councillor of Amiens, Somme, Picardie, France, where he championed several improvements and served for 15 years. Ill with diabetes, Verne died at his home, 44 Boulevard Longueville, (now Boulevard Jules-Verne) in Amiens on March 24, 1905. His son Michel oversaw publication of his last novels Invasion of the Sea and The Lighthouse at the End of the World, both published in 1905.


Nantes 1828 – Amiens 1905). Studiò diritto a Parigi ma – anziché subentrare al padre nello studio legale – preferì dedicarsi al teatro e alla letteratura. Una sua commedia, Le paglie rotte, venne rappresentata con successo nel 1850. Legato all’editore Hetzel che pubblicava il “Magazin d’education et del récréation”, dove apparve a puntate nel 1863 Cinque settimane in pallone, Verne ottenne un grande successo con quest’opera subito pubblicata anche in volume. Questo romanzo – che successivamente fu adattato per il teatro – è anche il capostipite di un genere nuovo, quello del “romanzo scientifico” come qualcuno lo definì in quegli anni, o meglio del romanzo di avventure ispirato alla scienza: un genere che si espresse nella nutrita serie di Viaggi straordinari attraverso i mondi conosciuti e sconosciuti, che consta di 62 titoli.

Due immmagini del battello, San Michel III, con il quale Giulio Verne percorse in lungo ed in largo l'Adriatico lungo le coste dell'Istria e della Dalmazia. Da quanto si può vedere (il comignolo) era anche dotato di motore. Verne vendù il battello nel 1885.

Verne compì lunghi viaggi al Nord, in America e nel Mediterraneo a bordo del proprio yacht acquistato con i diritti d’autore che gli provenivano dal suo lavoro letterario. Nel 1872, Verne abbandonò Parigi e si stabilì ad Amiens, città natale della moglie, dove visse fino alla morte e dove ricoprì anche l’incarico di consigliere nel Municipio della città nella lista progressista.



  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Gabriel_Verne
  • http://www.encyclopedia4u.com/j/jules-verne.html
  • Italian text - tratto dalla copertina dellla prima parte del romanzo intitolata redazionalmente, nella prima edizione triestina del 1970, La congiura di Trieste. Courtesy of Pietro Valente
  • Mathias Sandorf (background and excerpts)
  • Mathias Sandorf on Stage and Screen
  • Jules Verne, An Author Before his Time
  • Image - http://www.savoirs.essonne.fr/dossiers/le-patrimoine/histoire-des-sciences/les-tribulations-du-capitaine-verne/a-la-poursuite-de-mathias-sandorf/

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Created: Thursday, July 29, 2004; Last Updated: Friday, September 23, 2016
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