Eighty days Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's history-making race around the world

Matthew Goodman

Book - 2013

On November 14, 1889, two young female journalists raced against one another, determined to outdo Jules Verne's fictional hero and circle the globe in less than 80 days. The dramatic race that ensued would span 28,000 miles, captivate the nation, and change both competitors' lives forever.

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2nd Floor 910.41/Goodman Checked In
New York : Ballantine Books c2013.
1st ed
Physical Description
xxiii, 449 p. : ill., maps, ports. ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (p. [381]-423) and index.
Main Author
Matthew Goodman (-)
  • A free American girl
  • The newspaper gods of Gotham
  • The secret cupboard
  • "How quick can a woman go around the world?"
  • "I think I can beat Phileas Fogg's record"
  • Living by railroad time
  • A map of the world
  • "Et ego in Arcadia"
  • Baksheesh
  • An English market town in China
  • "The guessing match has begun in beautiful earnest"
  • The other woman is going to win
  • The Temple of the Dead
  • The mysterious travel agent
  • The special train
  • "From Jersey to Jersey is around the world"
  • Father Time outdone.
Review by Booklist Review

Goodman deftly re-creates the frenzy surrounding Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's infamous race around the world in 1889. While the adventures of Bly, intrepid reporter for Joseph Pulitzer's The World, have survived and been embellished over the last century, genteel literary critic Bisland's story has sadly fallen by the wayside. Goodman corrects that historical omission by interweaving both their journeys as the two women set out in opposite directions, equally committed to the idea of achieving the record for the fastest trip around the world. Inspired by Jules Verne's fantastical Around the World in 80 Days, Bly confidently expected to top the fictional feat of Phileas Fogg. Determined not to be outdone by Pulitzer, Cosmopolitan magazine commissioned Bisland, who set out one day later, to race against both Bly and time in an effort to cross the figurative finish line first. As a riveted world watched, these two women galloped around the globe via fortitude and an array of both modern and old-style transportation. Urge armchair travelers to hop on board as Nellie and Liz strike a blow for both feminism and the burgeoning Victorian travel industry.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Two pioneering women hurtle across the globe-and into a changing future-in this stimulating true-life adventure story. Historian Goodman (The Sun and the Moon) follows the 1889 voyages of Nellie Bly, a New York World reporter who embarked on a headline-grabbing assignment to circumnavigate the world in a record-setting 75 days, emulating Jules Verne's novel Around the World in 80 Days, and Elisabeth Brisland, a literary essayist press-ganged by her magazine's owner into racing Bly around the world in the opposite direction. Goodman vividly recreates their stormy, sea-sick travels and exotic Eastern ports of call while examining the revolutionary 19th-century culture of journeying: the proliferating webs of railways and luxury steamships; the swaggering might of the British Empire that guaranteed safe passage; Westerners' sense of wonder at encountering unfamiliar peoples-and their casually bigoted sense of entitlement to rule over them. He also draws fascinating portraits of two self-made women who captured America's imagination by defying its gender stereotypes. (When her editors balked at sending a woman, Bly vowed to beat any man sent in her place.) Deftly mixing social history into an absorbing travel epic, Goodman conveys the exuberant dynamism of a very unfusty Victorian era obsessed with speed, power, publicity, and the breaking of every barrier. Photos. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

In November 1889, two young women reporters, Nelly Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, one backed by a newspaper and the other by a monthly periodical, set off on a race to see who could make it first around the world. No one had actually beaten the fictional 80 days set by Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne's 1873 novel. Bly went east, Bisland west. Bly won, though there were allegations of fraud. (In France, a mysterious travel agent gave Bisland misleading directions, delaying her passage by several days.) In the interest of efficient travel, neither of the young women could do much en route except eat, sleep, and scurry from conveyance to conveyance as they traveled around the world at a dizzying pace. Goodman writes exceedingly well, producing an engaging book in which he manages as best he can to maintain a level of excitement by including fascinating contextual information on a number of topics, especially the barriers facing women who sought to break out of the mold of feminine acquiescence in the 1890s. VERDICT A delightful trifle-solid history, though not wide ranging-filled with energizing details. History lovers will eat it up.-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A richly detailed double narrative of the adventures of two young women journalists in a race against time, each striving to be the first to travel around the world in 75 days, outdoing the fictional Phileas Fogg's 80 days. Goodman (The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York, 2008, etc.) provides a clear picture of not only Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, but also of journalism in the 1890s and women's place in that field. Their roles were very different: Bly was a plucky investigative journalist for Joseph Pulitzer's daily newspaper the World, while Bisland wrote features and book reviews for the Cosmopolitan, a monthly magazine. Pulitzer's goal for the stunt was to raise circulation for his newspaper, and it succeeded, as readers followed the story and millions submitted their guesses for the exact time of the race's finish. As the winner, arriving back in 72 days, Bly briefly became a national figure, but fame ended her career in undercover journalism, and she struggled to make a living until her marriage to a 70-year-old millionaire, whose firm later declared bankruptcy. Bisland came in five days later and promptly disappeared from the public eye; however, she continued to write and married and lived well, which prompts the author to raise the question: Who was the real winner? Goodman's depiction of the swashbuckling Bly, whose self-regard often seemed larger than her regard for the truth, is somewhat less sympathetic than his portrait of the now-forgotten Bisland. The author also examines the shenanigans of the press, the vicissitudes of travel and the global power of the British Empire in the Victorian era. A tad overlong, but entertaining and readable throughout.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.