Often referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction,” Jules Verne wrote his first novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon, at the age of 35. He went on to be the second most translated author of all time, writing books about a variety of innovations and technological advancements years before they were practical realities.
Jules Verne was born on February 8, 1828, in the city of Nantes, France, a busy maritime port city. There, Verne was exposed to schooners and ships departing and arriving, sparking his imagination for travel and adventure. While attending boarding school, he began to capture his imagination in short stories and poetry. After Verne left boarding school, his father sent him to Paris to study law.
While in Paris, instead of immersing himself in the law, Verne found himself attracted to the theater, and after obtaining his law degree and setting up a practice in 1850, he began writing numerous plays, dramas and operettas.
His plays got him attention but they did not make him enough money to live comfortably. So Verne became a stockbroker to support himself. The job meant little to him, but it provided him with enough financial stability to marry Honorine de Viane, a young widow with two daughters, in 1857.
Verne then began to write novels but his initial efforts were all rejected. His luck changed when he made the acquaintance of editor and publisher Jules Hetzel, who would become Verne’s champion, Verne’s literary career truly began, with the 1863 publication of Five Weeks in a Balloon (serialized in Hetzel’s Magazine d’Éducation et de Récréation, as most of his works were). The book garnered wide acclaim, but poor sales.
Regardless of the revenue created by the book, Verne knew that he had finally found his place in the world. He then immersed himself in his work with unbridled enthusiasm, and over the course of the next ten years, he would create many of his classic novels.
In all, Verne wrote more than 70 books and conjured hundreds of memorable characters and countless innovations years before their time, including the submarine, space travel, terrestrial flight and deep-sea exploration.
His works of imagination, and the innovations and inventions contained within, have appeared in countless forms, from motion pictures to the stage, to television and his writings on scientific endeavors have sparked the imaginations of writers, scientists and inventors for over a century.