Most readers have heard of some, or several, of Jules Verne’s groundbreaking early science fiction novels. For example, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, and Around the World in Eighty Days. But, fewer readers are aware of the surprising life events that shaped Verne into the writer he became. These include his contentious relationship with his father and his various heartbreaks.
Verne’s 26-year-old nephew shot him twice with a pistol
On March 9, 1886, Verne was fifty-eight years old. His nephew, Gaston, who struggled with mental health, fired a gun at the writer twice. Gaston was in his 20s at the time and was suffering from a violent outburst caused by his belief that someone was following him. The first bullet missed, but the second bullet entered Verne’s leg and left him with a permanent limp that he never fully recovered from. He dealt with ill health till his death in 1905. After this violent incident, Verne’s nephew was sent to a mental institution. Today, scholars believe he suffered from some form of paranoia or perhaps schizophrenia.
Verne’s novels included eerily accurate predictions
Throughout the French writer’s varied oeuvre, he imaged a variety of incredible technological advances. Many of these have come to fruition since he depicts them in the 1860s, 70s, and 80s. They include computers and the Internet, suburbs, developments in railroad transportation, and other technological advances.
One prime example comes from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, published in 1867. The novel depicted a battery-powered submarine—the Nautilus. Less than twenty years later, similar submarines came into use, and some are still used today. In his lesser-read novel, The Twentieth Century, Verne wrote about skyscrapers, cars with internal combustion engines, electric lights on city streets, elevators, and more.
His father wanted him to be a lawyer
Famously, when growing up and into his early adult years, Jules Verne’s father consistently pressured his son to become a lawyer, hoping he would follow in his footsteps. He even convinced the youthful Jules Verne to move to Paris and study law. He graduated with a law degree in 1851, but, his desire to write fiction continued to entice him. This meant that Verne often clashed with his father’s wishes for his career.
Jules Verne is one of the most translated authors in the world
After Agatha Christie, Jules Verne is commonly considered to be the second most translated author in the world. Since the 1950s, his novels have become incredibly popular with wide audiences in countries all over the world. Scholars believe that he has had his novels translated into around 150 languages. Some of his best-known novels have been subject to various translations, including Around the World in Eighty Days, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and The Mysterious Island.
He tried to join the crew of a ship at eleven years old
The story of Jules Verne’s boyhood attempt to join a ship’s crew may be more fiction and nonfiction, but it does convey the author’s lifetime interest in adventure, sailing, and exploration. The story goes that the young Jules Verne acquired a spot as a cabin boy. He intended to travel along with the ship’s crew to the Indies and bring back a coral necklace as a gift for his cousin, with whom he was infatuated. Supposedly, Verne’s father retrieved him at the ship’s first stop in Paimboeuf.
Jules Verne had his heartbroken by his cousin
Another part of Jules Verne’s life that’s commonly described in biographies is his infatuation with his cousin—Caroline Tronson. Verne fell in love with his cousin when he was quite young and throughout his early career, starting at only twelve years old, he dedicated poems to her. In 1847, when she was twenty years old, she married a forty-year-old man, an event that left Jules Verne heartbroken.
He worked as a stockbroker at the Paris Bourse
This fact is somewhat surprising considering Jules Verne’s lifetime appreciation for discovery, travel, and dangerous unique missions. All of these and more are depicted in his novels, such as Around the World in Eighty Days. But, his everyday job as a stockbroker at the Paris Bourse was a necessity. It allowed him, for a time, to support his writing habits and moved him closer to marrying a woman he loved—Morel. He knew he needed a real income to support the object of his affection and her two children. In January 1857, he was successful, and the two were married with Morel’s family’s support.
His writing was not appreciated during his lifetime
Like many of the best-known writers, Jules Verne’s writing was not appreciated during his lifetime. Throughout his career, he sought to find full acceptance among his literary peers and be as respected as they were for his accomplishments. But, his fellow writers viewed his work as entertainment-based and not of any literary importance. In 1892, near the time of his death, Jules Verne wrote that his lack of importance within the broader history of French literature was his biggest disappointment. Since his death, Jules Verne’s writings have gone on to become synonymous with great French fiction, solidifying his place as perhaps the most famous French writer of all time.
Why was Jules Verne shot?
Jules Verne was shot by his nephew, Gaston, who was suffering from mental health issues. After the incident, Gaston was sent to a medical facility. Today, scholars believe he was suffering from some form of paranoia or schizophrenia.
What is Jules Verne well known for?
Today, Jules Verne is remembered for pioneering the science adventure genre as well as creating early examples of science fiction.
What are Jules Verne’s best books?
Commonly cited as Jules Verne’s best books are Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, and Around the World in Eighty Days.
Was Jules Verne a time traveler?
Today, lovers of science fiction and the science adventures genre often describe Jules Verne as a “time traveler.” This is an allusion to his uncanny ability to predict scientific advances and depict them with unrivaled clarity within his novels.
Where and when was Jules Verne born?
Jules Gabriel Verne was born on February 8, 1828, on a small artificial island called Île Feydeau on the river Loire. He spent most of his life in France and is today considered one of the greatest writers in French history.
Did Jules Verne write a book about Atlantis?
During his career, Jules Verne mentioned the lost city of Atlantis, which supposedly exists deep within the ocean, and his best-known novel Twenty Thousand leagues Under the Sea. It is one of the amazing discoveries that the main characters make that shocks them during their time on Captain Nemo’s Nautilus.