Monday, November 28, 2016

Around the World in 80 Days

This post probably isn't going to be what you are thinking it should be. Yes, Jules Verne wrote the novel but did you know that in 1889-1890 Nellie Bly a female journalist completed the journey? You can read about Nellie at Wikipedia.

Below I've included an excerpt from

Recollections of "Nellie Bly."
The filing for probate in New York City, the other day, of a second will purporting to be made by Robert Seaman, president at the time of his death of the Iron Clad Manufacturing Company, brings once again to mind the personality of the former famous newspaper correspondent, who was known by the pen-name of "Nellie Bly."

At one time, when she out-did "Phineas Fogg's" mythical circumnavigation of the globe in eighty days, "Nellie Bly" occupied the attention of two hemispheres. In her early career as a newspaper worker she successfully surrounded herself with a mystery as to her identity, which added to the value of her writings.

At that time she was variously pictured as a gushing school girl, an embittered old maid, a grass widow, a real widow, a wife and mother, an effeminate man disguished as a woman, and as a myth altogether, kept before the public eye by an enterprising syndicate of three journalists, with Joe Howard at the head.

Not one newspaper reader in a thousand was quite sure whether "Nellie Bly" was of feminine gender. Those who believed that she was a woman held the opinion that she was of great beauty of face and form. There were a score of men in New York who were ready to make affidavit that they possessed an intimate personal acquaintance with the writer of the "Nellie Bly" articles, and that in private life this writer wore trousers and drank absinthe frappe in inordinate quantities. Indeed, it has been asserted in all seriousness that "Nellie Bly" was the father of an interesting trio of bouncing baby boys, and that his wife wrote all his articles.

* * * * * "Nellie Bly"—as of course we all know now— is in reality a woman; a young woman past the school girl age, and not yet at the quarterpost of old-maidism when she entered newspaper life. She was then, as far as appearances go, a very ordinary everyday young woman, rather slight in form, leaning to eccentricity in dress, masculine in her tastes and ideas, and a man hater from 'way back. That may sound strange, but it is true nevertheless. Beyond business relations with the male sex "Nellie Ely" had at that time no further use for them. All her love was extended to her mother, and to make that mother comfortable and happy was the one thought that actuated her in every undertaking.

In the pursuance of this ambition she has endured what would drive almost any other woman wild with shame, mortification or chagrin. The basest motives were at times attributed to her by thoughtless and brutal carpers and cynics. She was declared unwomanly, unmaidenly, bold, presumptuous, by men, and brazen and forward by her sister women. While it is true that the vast majority of persons who felt an interest in her novel and original line of work entertained only the kindest sympathy for her, the very nature of her occupation subjected her constantly to the crudest kind of unthinking animadversion.

* * * * * "Nellie Bly" is a Pittsburg girl by birth. Her first attempt to gain a livelihood with her pen was made early in 1886, on The Pittsburg Dispatch. She had written a communication to that journal on the condition of workingwomen in the city of Pittsburg, and there being something in it that caught the fancy of Mr. Madden, the managing editor, she was requested to send her name and address. With this she complied, and as a result was engaged. It was Mr. Madden who suggested the title of Steven C. Foster's lullaby, "Nellie Bly" as a signature, and at his instance the name, being euphonious and easily remembered, was adopted. The young woman's real name was kept an office secret, and for some months successfully, but The Pittsburg Leader finally discovered and published it. Numerous cognomens were afterwards published in different cities, purporting to reveal the identity of the new woman writer, whose real name is "Pink" Elizabeth Cochrane. Her father, who has been dead for a number of years, was an Associate Judge in one of the oil region towns. "Nellie Bly's" first important mission was a trip to Mexico, where she traveled for six months, learning to speak Spanish with fair fluency in that time. Her letters were published in The Dispatch and attracted attention because of their originality and quaint treatment of old subjects in a new way. "Miss Bly" was honored during this her first practical newspaper experience by a love-lorn Mexican, who became desperately enamored of her, and who thummed his guitar with such savage persistency and wrote so many notes breathing "love or death" that the object of his admiration was obliged for her own peace of mind to take a hasty departure. He was a particularly handsome fellow, this Mexican, and took a solemn vow that the young American should either become his bride or he would convert himself into a cold, clammy corpse. Whether he carried out his latter alternative or not was never learned. At all events he missed making good the first section of his oath.

***** When "Miss Bly" returned to Pittsburg, she was put in charge of the society column of The Dispatch, alternating this work with writing theatrical notices and criticisms, and in preparing articles on woman's work. With her added experience, these papers attracted attention in New York, and were frequently introduced in the Metropolitan dailies. This gave "Miss Bly" the idea that she could better herself in the bigger city, and she secured a letter of introduction to Joe Howard, Jr., from one of her newspaper friends in Pittsburg. With nothing more definite than this, she said good-bye to her mother, and started out with the full determination to win or die, and, as she has confessed herself, it came nearly being a "die."

Arrived in New York, she presented her letter, and was given several large chunks of fatherly advice and the cheerful opinion that she had made a mistake, and ought to go home. She didn't go, but sought out Foster Coates, managing editor of The Mail and Express, and one of the leading spirits in a newspaper syndicate. It was just at this time that Andrew Carnegie, the millionaire, had taken unto himself a bride, and it was estimated that if "Miss Bly" could interview Mrs. Carnegie, such service might be acceptable. Small hopes were held out that success might attend this effort, as the most experienced New York interviewers had triefl and failed. "Miss Bly" started in, and by perseverance and the exercise of a little feminine diplomacy obtained a very complete and exhaustive talk with the bride, touching upon every subject that would be of interest to women readers.
* * * * *
The news market was not glutted with millionaires' brides, and that field promised no further crop.
Like all beginners in newspaper work in the big city, "Miss Bly" speedily reached that period when it appeared that there was not a single new thing under the sun to write about. She thought and thought and thought, and tried and tried, but met rebuffs at every turn. She was boarding at a modest little boarding house 'way up in Harlem, where the fare was just about generous enough to support life because of the moderate price paid for it. Cheap as this living was, it could not be paid for without an income. The little store of money that the girl had hoarded was becoming rapidly exhausted. She was indebted to her landlady, and could not meet the obligation. To make matters worse, "Miss Bly" one day lost her purse, and with it every dollar she possessed in the world. This misfortune did not discourage her, however, and she was too proud to make her loss known. Every day she walked from six to eight miles, because she had actually no money to pay her carfare. The situation began to look desperate. Days were slipping by, and the board bill was growing. Something had to be done, so without much hope of success letters of introduction were obtained from Joe Howard to every editor in New York. After a great struggle and the exercise of a most extraordinary amount of perseverance, interviews were obtained with the editors or the editors-in-charge of The Herald, The Sun, The Times and The Tribune. Not one of them professed to believe that "Nellie Bly" would be a profitable investment. They had heard of her in a perfunctory way, but they did not believe they had any work which she was capable of doing. The old and favorite method of politely disposing of the applicant by taking her name and address was adopted, and "Miss
Bly" was informed that if her services were needed she would receive a notification by mail.

Then the young woman, who refused to be disheartened, betook herself to the office of The World and secured an audience with Joseph Pulitzer.

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