In the late-1800s and early-1900s, a sense of adventure swept over the literary realm, exemplified in the works of authors like Mark Twain and Jack London. No author typified this genre more impressively than Jules Verne, a French novelist and playwright. Together with Pierre-Jules Hetzel, Verne provided the world with three novels rife with adventure and the unknown: Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days.
Born in 1828, Verne first sought out a career in the law; he only became an author after finishing law school. His interest in the journeys to the unknown likely stemmed from his experiences as a child, watching ships come and go in the port city where he was raised. After making friends with prominent artists and writers in the salons of Paris, Verne had his first play performed in 1850. His law career never panned out, despite his father’s willingness to pay for his son to open a practice. Instead, Verne worked in the theater, earning just enough to survive. The hallmark of much of Verne’s work was the use of science and technology, often discussing fantastical inventions that were well ahead of his time. His life soon began to imitate his art: he and his wife bought a ship and spent a great deal of time sailing to various ports in Europe.
Near the end of his life, his work began to take a different tone as it pertains to technology. Where he once extolled the virtues of science and technology in allowing man to explore the world, his later works warned society about the problems that can so easily emerge as a result of technology. He retired to a small community in northern France, dying on March 24, 1905. His son, Michel, maintained possession of his unpublished manuscripts and saw them released to the public throughout the next ten years with varying degrees of editorial freedom taken. His novels would go on to inspire countless generations of authors and filmmakers, giving rise to entirely new trends in each of these forms of artistic expression.