Following the publication of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days in 1873, Americans had an increasing interest in travel. World travel was becoming even easier with the faster steamships of the day.
In 1888, Nellie Bly, a feisty, investigative reporter for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World newspaper, pitched a story idea of traveling around the world in 75 days to beat the record achieved by Phileas Fogg, the character in Verne’s book. While the editor thought it a great idea, he naturally thought the trip should be made by a man. The idea was shelved for over a year.
One day in November 1889, Bly’s editor told her the trip against Fogg’s time would occur, and she would be the reporter to go – in just two days! She sailed east toward England on 14 November, 1889.
The Cosmopolitan was a rival magazine in New York. Not to be outdone by Pulitizer, the Cosmopolitan editors suddenly decided – seemingly within minutes of Bly’s departure – to send their own female reporter, Elizabeth Bisland, on a world trip with the intent to return to New York before Bly. Bisland left that evening on a train going west to San Francisco.
Both reporters wrote detailed accounts of their journeys. For the first time, their writings have been combined in this book so that a consistent timeline is maintained between both women. The listener can feel the urgency and uniqueness of their travels while fully enjoying the similarities and differences in the authors’ styles and their experiences.
Who will win the race?