“I took off my cap and wanted to yell with the crowd, not because I had gone around the world in seventy-two days, but because I was home again.” These aren’t the words of Phileas Fogg, the fictional character of Jule Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days”, these are the words of Nellie Bly, the woman who set the world record for a round the world trip in 1890. She didn’t just travel the world faster than anyone before, she was also the first woman to do this completely on her own.

Nellie Bly was the pen name of Elizabeth Jane Cochran, an American pioneer female journalist, born in 1864. At the age of 20 she wrote a fiery letter to the editor of a sexist column in the “Pittsburgh Dispatch”, this editor, completely impressed by her letter, offered her a job at the newspaper. And this is how Elizabeth Jane Cochran became the journalist Nellie Bly. She wrote about working women, travelled to Mexico to serve as a foreign correspondent and was forced to leave Mexico six months later after criticizing the Mexican government, then a dictatorship under Porfirio Díaz. She moved to New York and started a job at the “New York World”, Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper.

And then she went insane. Kind of literally. For an undercover report she feigned insanity and spent ten days and nights at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island to investigate reports of brutality and neglect. Her report was a sensation and Bly became famous. It was at this time when she read Jule Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days”. Inspired by the novel she went to her boss and said she wanted to travel the world in less than 80 days.

On November 14 in 1889 she started her trip around the world. One of her first stops was in Amiens, France, to visit Jules Verne.

“If you do it in seventy-nine days, I shall applaud with both hands,” Jules Verne said, and then I knew he doubted the possibility of my doing it in seventy-five, as I had promised. In compliment to me, he endeavored to speak to me in English, and did succeed in saying, as his glass tipped mine: “Good luck, Nellie Bly.”

By steam boat and railway, she traveled 24,899-miles through England, France, Italy, Ceylon, Hong Kong, China, Japan and San Francisco and exactly seventy-two days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds after her departure she arrived back in New York. A world record.

During her travels she reported very detailed her impressions back to her newspaper and later published her story in the book “Around The World in Seventy-Two Days”.

It reads like a dairy and given the fact that blogs also were ment as a dairy I like the idea to see Nellie Bly as the first travel blogger ever.

Nellie Bly (1864 -1922) – A true Travelette.