News National On This Day: Phileas Fogg returns after travelling the world in 80 days
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On This Day: Phileas Fogg returns after travelling the world in 80 days

A scene from the 2004 film adaption of Around the World in 80 Days. Photo: Getty
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If you can afford a dozen plane tickets and overpriced airport food, travelling around the world in 80 days is certainly achievable.

But in 1872, it was a completely different story.

There were no phones, no Google Maps – and no planes.

So the journey of British gambler Phileas Fogg – a fictional character in the famous novel Around the World in Eighty Days – was awe-inspiring (and prompted others to attempt the same feat).

A portrait of Jules Verne’s character, Phileas Fogg, illustrated by Louis Paul Pierre Dumont (1822-1882). Photo: Getty

The story of Mr Fogg, written by French author Jules Verne in 1872, was so popular that December 21 became known as Win a Wager Day in the United States.

French author Jules Verne. Photo: Getty

Although Verne’s novel is a work of fiction, the story was inspired by the real round-the-world travels of American writer and adventurer, William Perry Fogg.

In the fictional story, Phileas Fogg gets into an argument with members of London’s Reform Club about the possibility of travelling around the world in 80 days.

Finally, he agrees to a bet of £20,000 (which equates to about $2.6 million today) that he can do it.

And so begins a long, action-packed journey with his French servant Jean Passepartout.

A scene from the 1956 film adaption of Around the World in 80 Days. Photo: Getty

The novel became known as one of the greatest travel novels of all time, capturing the imaginations of readers in the 19th century and beyond.

Nine years after it was published, American journalist Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman – better known by her pen name Nellie Bly – took up the challenge to find out if it was possible.

In 1888, Bly suggested to her editor at The New York World that she take a trip around the world.

A year later, on November 14, 1889, she boarded the Augusta Victoria with the dress she was wearing, a sturdy overcoat, underwear and a small travel bag.

She kept most of her money in a little bag tied around her neck.

To the surprise of almost everyone, Bly beat Phileas Fogg’s record and made it home in just 72 days.

In 1998, Bly was posthumously inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in New York City.

American journalist Nelly Bly, also called Miss Phileas Fogg. Photo: Getty