Authors: Jules Verne

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Last reviewed: June 2018

French novelist

February 8, 1828

Nantes, France

March 24, 1905

Amiens, France


Born in 1828, Jules Verne, who was to become one of the best-known science-fiction writers of all time, had a quiet childhood in Nantes. He attended the local lycée before going to Paris, intending to study law. However, through the influence of writers such as Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, he discovered that he preferred literary work. He wrote operas, collaborated with the younger Dumas on some plays, and tried travel writing. His first success came with the publication of Five Weeks in a Balloon. The popularity of this novel encouraged Verne to continue writing near-future scientific adventure, often involving journeys into known and unknown realms. These “voyages extraordinaires” included A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. {$I[AN]9810001442} {$I[A]Verne, Jules} {$I[geo]FRANCE;Verne, Jules} {$I[tim]1828;Verne, Jules}

Jules Verne

(Library of Congress)

Adopting literary techniques similar to the mid-century French realists, Verne included carefully prepared scientific and geographical data to provide plausible backgrounds for his novels. The subject matter and lively action of Verne’s tales soon gained for him an immense following in France and abroad. His novels coincided with the popular interest in science and technology beginning to sweep people’s imaginations during the second half of the nineteenth century. Their popularity is attested by the great number of translations and foreign editions. Each novel described a scientific or technological development and its consequences, many of which have proved startlingly accurate and have inspired writers and scientists. By combining the physical sciences with the elements of fiction, he helped to create a form of literature later called science fiction.

The most famous of Verne’s novels, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, a pioneer work, introduced an advanced submarine to literature decades before the world’s navies could build and use such a vessel. In this case, as in others, he anticipated future technology; his Nautilus, propelled by electricity, functions on principles similar to those of modern undersea craft.

Although Verne’s novels achieved wide and enduring fame, they did not receive careful critical attention until the last third of the twentieth century. Scholars began to consider his novels against the background of their literary, scientific, and social context and to analyze his artistic techniques.

In his own time, Verne was honored by the French government, acclaimed by the French intellectuals, and beloved by readers the world over, having popularized science more effectively than any previous writer. Subsequently, his renown and literary standing have grown in France and throughout the world.

Author Works Long Fiction: Cinq Semaines en ballon, 1863 (Five Weeks in a Balloon, 1876) Voyage au centre de la terre, 1864 (A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 1872) Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras, 1864–66 (2 volumes; includes Les Anglais au pôle nord, 1864 [English at the North Pole, 1874], and Le Désert de glace, 1866 [Field of Ice, 1876]; also known as Adventures of Captain Hatteras, 1875) De la terre à la lune, 1865 (From the Earth to the Moon, 1873) Les Enfants du capitaine Grant, 1867–68 (3 volumes; Voyage Round the World, 1876–77; also known as Captain Grant’s Children, includes The Mysterious Document, Among the Cannibals, and On the Track) Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, 1869–70 (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1873) Autour de la lune, 1870 (From the Earth to the Moon . . . and a Trip around It, 1873) Une Ville flottante, 1871 (A Floating City, 1876) Aventures de trois russes et de trois anglais, 1872 (Meridiana: The Adventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians in South Africa, 1873) Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours, 1873 (Around the World in Eighty Days, 1873) Docteur Ox, 1874, 1876 (in Dr. Ox’s Experiment and Master Zacharius, 1876) L’Île mystérieuse, 1874–75 (3 volumes; includes Les Naufrages de l’air, L’Abandonné, and Le Secret de l’île; The Mysterious Island, 1875) Le Chancellor, 1875 (Survivors of the Chancellor, 1875) Michel Strogoff, 1876 (Michael Strogoff, 1876–77) Hector Servadac, 1877 (English translation, 1878) Les Cinq Cents Millions de la Bégum, 1878 (The Begum’s Fortune, 1880) La Maison à vapeur, 1880 (The Steam House, 1881; includes The Demon of Cawnpore and Tigers and Traitors) La Jangada, 1881 (2 volumes; The Giant Raft, 1881; includes Down the Amazon and The Cryptogram) Mathias Sandorf, 1885 (English translation, 1886) Robur le conquerant, 1886 (The Clipper of the Clouds, 1887) Sans dessus dessous, 1889 (The Purchase of the North Pole, 1891) Le Château ds Carpathes, 1892 (The Castle of the Carpathians, 1893) L’Île à hélice, 1895 (Floating Island, 1896; also known as Propeller Island, 1965) Face au drapeau, 1896 (For the Flag, 1897) Le Sphinx des glaces, 1897 (An Antarctic Mystery, 1898; also known as The Mystery of Arthur Gordon Pym) Le Superbe Orénoque, 1898 (The Mighty Orinoco, 2002) Le Village aérien, 1901 (The Village in the Treetops, 1964) Maître du monde, 1904 (Master of the World, 1914) L'Invasion de la mer, 1905 (Invasion of the Sea, 2001) Le Phare du bout du monde, 1905 (Lighthouse at the End of the World, 2007) Le Volcan d'or, 1906 (The Golden Volcano, 2008) La Chasse au météore, 1908 (The Chase of the Golden Meteor, 1909) Le Pilote du Danube, 1908 (Golden Danube, 2014) Les Naufrages du “Jonathan,” 1909 (The Survivors of the “Jonathan,” 1962) Le Secret de Wilhelm Storitz, 1910 (The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz, 1965) L’Étonnante Aventure de la mission Barsac, 1920 (2 volumes; Into the Niger Bend, 1919; The City in the Sahara, 1965) Paris au XX e siècle, 1994 (Paris in the Twentieth Century, 1996) Short Fiction: Maître Zacharius: Ou, L’Horloger qui a perdu son âme, 1854 Docteur Ox, 1874, 1976 Dr. Ox’s Experiment and Master Zacharius, 1876 Hier et demain, 1910 (Yesterday and Tomorrow, 1965) Drama: Les Pailles rompues, pr. 1850 Colin Maillard, pb. 1853 (libretto) Les Compagnons de la Marjolaine, pr. 1855 (libretto) Nonfiction: Géographie illustrée de la France et de ses colonies, 1867–68 (with Théophile Lavellée) Histoire des grandes voyages et grand voyageurs, 1870–73 (3 volumes; with Gabriel Marcel; Celebrated Travels and Travellers, 1879–81) Bibliography Butcher, William. Jules Verne: The Definitive Biography. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2006. An exhaustive examination of Jules Verne that is large in scope, revealing rich—and sometimes controversial—details of his life. Butcher, William. Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Self: Space and Time in the Voyages Extraordinaires. London: Macmillan, 1990. A comprehensive study of Verne’s science fiction, with detailed notes and a comprehensive bibliography. Costello, Peter. Jules Verne Inventor of Science Fiction. New York: Scribner’s, 1978. A readable biography that puts the fiction in historical context. Includes a bibliography. Jules-Verne, Jean. Jules Verne. New York: Taplinger, 1976. Written by Verne’s grandson, this readable and entertaining biography draws on material in the family archives and explores Verne’s methods and the experiences that led to his stories and novels. Also a good portrait of the times in which Verne lived and wrote. Includes detailed bibliography and index. Lottmann, Herbert. Jules Verne: An Exploratory Biography. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996. A graceful study by a veteran biographer of many French subjects. The detailed notes reflect extensive new research. Lynch, Lawrence. Jules Verne. New York: Twayne, 1992. A reliable introductory study with chapters on Verne’s early life, his early fiction, his period of masterpieces, and his final fictions. Includes an appendix listing film adaptations of Verne, detailed notes, a chronology, and an annotated bibliography. Martin, Andrew. The Mask of the Prophet: The Extraordinary Fictions of Jules Verne. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1990. Attempts to recapture Verne for modern readers, focusing on his fictions of subversion and law and disorder, and on the prophetic nature of fiction itself.

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