Jules Gabriel Verne, 1828 - 1905

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Born: 8 February 1828, Nantes, France
Died: 24 March 1905, Amiens, France

The eldest child in a wealthy family at the bustling port of Nantes, Verne spent summers at a country house on the Loire. His inquisitive and adventuresome character surfaced early, he and brother Paul often rented a boat to explore the river. He and Paul were sent to boarding school at age nine, at twelve he stowed away on ship bound for India although he was caught before she left port. After completing studies at the lycée he was sent to Paris to study law but he was spending much of his time writing, when his father learned this he lost his living allowance and supported himself as a stockbroker, a job he hated but was good at. He met Alexandre Dumas, père and Victor Hugo who provided writing advice. More significantly, after much of his work had been turned down by other publishers, he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, an important French publisher. Hetzel insisted on more humor and happier endings, urged Verne to temper his political messages, and published Five Weeks in a Balloon in 1963. Hetzel's firm maintained a biweekly publication in which Verne's novels were frequently serialized tp promote the books, and Hetzel released two or more volumes every year until Verne's death. In 1887 Hetzel died and Verne's work became much darker, largely because Hetzel's son was not as good an editor as his father had been. Despite the success of his many books, most of his income came from stage adaptations of Around the World in Eighty Days and Michel Strogoff. Of all individual authors, only Agatha Christie's work has been more often translated into other languages. Alas, not all of the translations were done well, Verne's reputation in the US suffered due to particularly poor translations of his measurements, the translators converted metric measures to English without converting the numbers, rending many of them absurd. Verne predicted many elements of modern life, arguably including air conditioning, automobiles, and electricity. Although his From the Earth to the Moon used a mammoth gun to propel his voyagers into space, he sited that gun at Tampa, Florida, only 130 miles from the launch pads at Cape Canaveral. In his final year Verne suffered from diabetes and died at home. In 2008 efforts were begun to move his remains from Amien to the Panthéon at Paris, where his friends Dumas and Hugo rest along with France's other major literary lights.

Biography from Wikipedia and obituaries at JulesVerne.ca

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