Few of us can say we’ve never read a book by one of the most imaginative writers that ever lived, Jules Verne. He is considered universally as the father of science-fiction, having made a fantastic contribution to the development of surrealism and avant-garde genres.
His amazing works, such as Around the World in Eighty Days or Journey to the Centre of the Earth, continue to inspire literature and films to our days. Across Europe, he was highly respected, and he remains an inspirational author.
Let’s have a look at some interesting facts about Jules Verne!
Jules Verne Interesting Facts
1. He spent his childhood around ships
Many of Jules Verne’s novels have maritime travel at their core, such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. This is because young Jules was interested in and amassed knowledge about ships during his childhood.
Born in Nantes, he made the most of living in a busy port city which was a major French maritime hub. He would watch ships sail down the Loire river and he would imagine how it would be aboard them. He later used all this in his novels.
2. He was in Paris during the 1848 Revolution
The year 1848 was a tumultuous year throughout Europe, as many countries witnessed uprisings with a democratic and liberal agenda. The initial spark was lit in France, based on the belief that people should rule themselves and aimed at toppling the monarchy.
Jules Verne found himself in Paris during this time exactly, as he had moved there to study law. In a letter to his mother he wrote, “On Thursday the fighting was intense; at the end of my street, houses were knocked down by cannon fire.”
He kept himself out of the conflict but he later wrote novels about the revolutionary events, such as The Count of Chanteleine: A Tale of the French Revolution and The Flight to France, an interesting fact about Jules Verne.
3. He meant to write a series
His books are enjoyed independently and they make perfect sense on their own, but Jules Verne’s intention was to have a series of adventure novels.
He started off the series “Voyages Extraordinaires” (“Extraordinary Travels”) in the early 1860s after meeting with publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel, who helped him publish the first book: Five Weeks in a Balloon.
Dozens of books followed, all published by Hetzel, first appearing in instalments in a magazine run by Hetzel and then being published for sale.
4. Jules Verne’s books were a good income earner
Unlike many famous authors who are respected predominantly after their death, Jules Verne was very successful during his lifetime. From 1863, he would write two novels a year for Hetzel under a contract which went on for many years. This allowed him a steady income.
He wrote 54 novels between 1863 and 1905, covering travel, history, science, all types of adventures and technologies.
All in all, he wrote 65 novels, although some came out after his death.
5. He is the second most translated author in the world
An interesting fact about Jules Verne is that he holds the title for second most translated author in the world. While he has significantly fewer translations to his name than first-placed Agatha Christie (over 7,000 for her vs. over 4,700 for him), this also makes him the most translated non-English author in the world, which is not an average feat.
It’s worth noting that in the top 10 of most translated authors, he is only joined by Vladimir Lenin (Russian), Hans Christian Andersen (Danish), and Jacob Grimm (German) for non-English works. His works have been translated in 150 languages, but not all are accurate. In English, he was seen as a children’s book author and his texts were simplified and cut down a lot. His novels were also censored for any content that might have been considered a critique of the British Empire. Thankfully, recent years have seen a resurgence in interest in his work and it is being re-translated for a far more accurate representation.
6. His nephew shot him and left him with a limp
Jules Verne had a mentally ill nephew, Gaston, who suddenly got violent with him when he was in his late 50s. Apparently, Gaston shot Verne in the leg as the writer was arriving home one day, completely out of the blue. The first bullet was actually aimed to kill him perhaps, but it didn’t hit him, while the second hit his leg and left him disabled for the rest of his life, a crazy fact about Jules Vernes.
After this, Gaston was committed to a mental asylum.
Unfortunately, Jules Verne also suffered from diabetes, which made his healing much longer, but also managed to catch an infection and in the end, was left with a limp he had until his death.
7. He predicted many later-day developments
Jules Verne’s books read like a wonderful fantasy but they’re not completely out of the realm of reality and possibility, an interesting Jules Vernes fact.
In fact, the electric submarine Nautilus from Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea was developed in real life in the 1880s (battery-powered submarines).
He also wrote a novel called Paris in the Twentieth Century in 1863, in which he predicted that, by 1960, there would be electric city lights and skyscrapers, as well as city suburbs. He even wrote about computers communicating over the Internet – in his work, they appear as mechanical calculators which can communicate through a network.
8. Steampunk is another one of his legacies
The science fiction sub-genre of steampunk was inspired by Jules Verne’s characters and books. For example, the comic book series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen features Captain Nemo from Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.
Jules Verne spent his life writing imaginative novels which have created wonder and enjoyment for so many generations. Yet, he was never appreciated as a serious author by his French contemporary peers, and English-language literature reduced his work to children’s books until recently. It is remarkable how deep his work really is, and now you know this through the top 8 facts about Jules Verne!
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