Author, Poet, and Playwright. He is best remembered for his adventure novels, with such classics as "Around the World in Eighty Days" and "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." He is one of the authors sometimes referred to as "The Father of Science Fiction," along with H.G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback. He is the second most-translated author in the world since 1979, between the English language writers Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare, and probably was the most translated from the 1960s through the 1970s. Born Jules Gabriel Verne into a wealthy family, his father was a lawyer and as the oldest child, he was expected to follow in his footsteps. However, his passion for writing caused him to leave that profession after finishing his law studies in Paris, France and establishing a law practice in 1850. He then began a ten-year period living as a playwright and giving up the law entirely. He produced a group of not terribly successful stage plays, including "The Companions of the Marjolaine" and "Blind Man's Bluff" (both around 1850). To supplement his income, he became a stockbroker to support himself. In 1857 he published his first book, "The 1857 Salon." Over the next few years, he and his family took a number of trips to England which inspired him to write "Backwards to Britain." While his books had previously been roundly rejected by publishers, his fortunes soon changes, along with the genre in which he began to write. After meeting editor and publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel in 1862, who would become his champion, his literary career truly began with the 1863 publication of "Five Weeks in a Balloon," but in spite of receiving wide acclaim, it generated poor sales. After meeting French photographer Felix Nadar, he was introduced to his circle of scientific friends, which influenced him while writing his science fiction stories. In 1864 he published "Edgar Allan Poe and His Works," "Adventures of Captain Hatteras," and "Journey to the Center of the Earth." The following year came "From the Earth to the Moon" and "Captain Grant's Children." In 1867 he published "Geography of France and Her Colonies." The same year, he purchased a small ship, the Saint-Michel, and spent much time sailing the seas, visiting various ports in England and along the Mediterranean Sea, and visited the US briefly. In 1869 and 1870 he published "Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea," "Round the Moon," and "Discovery of the Earth." He followed this with "Around the World in Eighty Days' (1872), "The Adventures of a Special Correspondent" (1872), "The Survivors of the Chancellor" (1875), "Michael Strogoff" (1876), and "Dick Sand: A Captain at Fifteen" (1878), "Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon" (1881), and "Robur the Conqueror" (1886), among several others. In 1886 his favorite nephew, Gaston, attempted to murder him. Firing two shots from a pistol, one stuck him in the leg, giving him a permanent limp for the rest of his life. Gaston turned out to be suffering from mental illness, and would spend the rest of his life in a mental institution. In 1904 he published his last major work during his life, "Masters of the World" and the following year he died at his home of complications from diabetes at the age of 75. His son, Michel Verne, oversaw publication of his novels "Invasion of the Sea" and "The Lighthouse at the End of the World" after his death. In 1961 a large impact crater on the far side of the Moon was named Jules Verne in his honor. The express train running between Nantes and Paris from 1980 to 1989 was named Jules Verne in the writer's honor. Two French ships were also named after him, and the international prize for around the world sailing records is named the Jules Verne Trophy. In 1999 he was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. During his life, he wrote over 70 books and his works of imagination, with their innovations and inventions, have appeared in countless forms, from motion pictures to the stage, and to television. Interestingly, in 1863 he had written a novel called "Paris in the Twentieth 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, but cannot find happiness and who comes to a tragic end. His publisher thought the novel's pessimism would damage his then-blossoming career, and suggested that he wait 20 years to publish it. He stored the manuscript in a safe, where it was discovered by his great-grandson in 1989 and published in 1994.
Bio by: William Bjornstad