Hello Jules Verne!
As a modern British Steampunk I spend a lot of time losing myself in a great novel, and the novels of Jules Verne have long been an inspiration to me so I thought I would take a closer look at the man hailed as one of the 'fathers of science fiction'.
His creative and forward thinking stories heralded the coming of modern day technology such as the submarine, deep-sea exploration and space travel. If it wasn't for certain friendships and his thirst for travel, Verne's career may have gone in a completely different direction.
Jules Verne- The Early Years:
Jules Gabriel Verne was born on 8th February 1828 in the maritime port town of Nantes, one of four children to Pierre, an attorney, and Sophie, a daughter in a family of ship owners and navigators. Vern's childhood was spent studying in awe the various ships and schooners that would frequent Nantes shores. He captured his subsequent excitement in collections of poetry and short stories. However his father didn't approve of his literary fancies and sent him to study law in Paris.
Despite being sent to Paris to further his legal career, Verne found himself being drawn to the city's cultural quarter. Inspired by the theatre, he continued with his writing, this time choosing to focus on plays, operettas and dramas. Along the way he did fulfil his father's expectations of him and opened his first legal practice in 1850.
Beginning to Write for Profit:
Under the encouragement of his author friend Alexander Dumas and playwright Victor Hugo, Verne gave up the law and dedicated himself to the sole pursuit of writing. His initial forays into this line of work did not bring him much success and was forced to resort to stockbroking to support himself and his wife, Honorine De Viane, who he married in 1857. His first book, Le Salon de 1857 was published in the same year. True literacy success evaded Verne until he was introduced to Hugo's publisher Jules Hetzel and the publication of Five Weeks in a Balloon in 1853. Critically acclaimed, but not quite earning him enough for financial stability, Verne found the motivation he needed to continue to translate his imagination onto paper. During the next 10 years he produced some of his iconic classic works, some of his ideas inspired by his new acquaintance with Felix Nadar and his circle of scientific friends.
The Road to Success:
Verne's partnership with Hetzel convinced him to share with the world such epic adventure classics as Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and Around the World in 80 days. All in all he wrote more than 80 books, short stories, essays, poems and plays during his lifetime, a legacy which would award him the accolade of the second most translated writer of all time.
Jules Verne died in 1905, ending a tumultuous personal period for the author, during which he survived an attempt on his life and he suffered the loss of both Jules Hetzel and his mother. His works continue to be emulated in theatre, film and television while his stories of adventure, travel and scientific discovery, to this day, inspire the progress of writers and inventors alike.
An inspiration and a damn good storyteller, if you have not picked up a Jules Verne book in a while, or ever then I can only advise you to find some time and become acquainted with the father of science fiction and a Steampunk Inspiration!