Biography of Jules Verne

Jules Verne was a novelist, poet, and playwright. Born in Nantes, France, Verne wrote many celebrated adventure and science fiction novels in the latter half of the 19th century. Some of his most famous works include Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days. He has been the second-most translated author in the world since 1979; today, he is regarded as one of the fathers of science fiction.

Growing up, Verne had one brother and three sisters, and was primarily educated at various boarding schools throughout France. By the age of nineteen Verne was already writing long works, but his father insisted that he not try to make any money through an authorial career, and that he instead go to law school to eventually inherit the family's law practice. He went to Paris to begin legal studies. While there, Verne fell in love with a girl who was eventually married off to someone richer and more stable than he, an occurrence which devastated him.

Verne finished his law studies in Paris during the French Revolution of 1848, a time of great political strife for the city and the nation. He continued to write, however, citing French author Victor Hugo as a major influence. After graduating with his law degree, Verne gave up the legal profession and instead pursued a career as a playwright, encouraged by his friend Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers.

After publishing a few plays and realizing that such a publication record was not enough to support him, Verne became a stockbroker. This employment provided him with enough stability to marry Honorine de Viane, a young widow. The same year he married her, he published his first book, Le Salon de 1857. In 1861 they had their only child together, Michel Jean Pierre Verne.

When Verne met and got to know publisher Jean Hetzel, his literary luck changed. After publishing Five Weeks in a Balloon in 1863, he realized that he could attain recognition as an author. Throughout the remainder of the 1860s and into the 1870s, Verne continued to publish a number of novels that garnered wide acclaim. During this period, he bought a ship and began to sail the British Isles and the Mediterranean, his adventures providing much inspiration for his compositions. He continued to write through the 1870s.

Altogether, Verne wrote more than 70 books, most notably the 54 novels comprising his collection called Voyages Extraordinaires. He died, ill with diabetes, in his home in Amiens, France in 1905.

Study Guides on Works by Jules Verne