Page last modified: April 27, 2004

Nellie Bly(1864-1922)
(born Elizabeth Jane Cochran)
(Elizabeth Seaman Cochran - after her marriage in 1895 to Robert Seaman)
(for image see
(PBS Show:
"I was too impatient to work along at the usual duties assigned women at newspapers."
- Nellie Bly - 

Born May 5, 1864 in Cochrane's Mills, Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, Nellie Bly was a journalist for the New York World who best became known for her challenge and success at breaking the "around the world" pace of 80 days set by Jules Verne's character Phileas Fogg in the book Around the World in 80 Days
(She adopted the name Nellie Bly from a Stephen J. Foster song of the period. Stephen J. Foster had been from Pittsburgh where Nellie had gotten her first job as a reporter, for the Pittsburgh Dispatch.)

After coming up with the idea of trying to beat the travel time of the fictional Phileas Fogg, she asked her publisher (the New York World, owned by Joseph Pulitzer) to fund the journey, and she headed out on November 14, 1889. No previous special arrangements were made. During her trip she wrote daily dispatches about her travels. Her stories were wildly popular, and many people followed her journey closely on the map that was published every day showing where she was. The paper, which offered a trip to Europe to the person who could come closest to guessing her finish time, received nearly 1,000,000 entries and circulation boomed.
She returned to New York by train (Joseph Pulitzer sent a special train to meet her return to San Francisco) on Jan 25, 1890, a trip of 72 days. Nellie Bly was greeted by fireworks, gun salutes, brass bands and parade on Broadway having bested Phileas Fogg (a "record" of 72 days 6 hours 11 minutes 14 seconds). During her voyage she met with Jules Verne in Amiens when she travelled through France. Bly became so famous that dolls were made of her, songs were written about her, a race horse was named for her, and her image appeared everywhere from posters to soap ads to cartoons.

Nellie Bly had already made a name for herself by exposing the deplorable conditions of an insane asylum on New York's Blackwell's Island. Bly researched the story by feigning insanity and had herself committed for ten days. Her exposé on the asylum and later reports on slum life brought about needed reforms and helped pave the way for women in journalism.

Bly "retired" from journalism after her marriage to Robert Seaman in 1895, but embarked on a new career after her husbandís death 10 years later. Taking over his failing industries, she introduced the steel barrel to the distilling process in America and made his companies a huge success. For almost 10 years, she managed two multimillion-dollar companies. More important, she recognized the value of treating her workers well. She ran her plants as social experiments, initiating physical fitness by providing gymnasiums, bowling alleys and health care, and mental fitness by providing staffed libraries to teach employees how to read and to pass examinations for diplomas so they could enjoy intellectual pursuits and improve their lives. Then, after retiring as a businesswoman, she was trapped in Europe while vacationing there as World War I broke out. She used her skills as a reporter to cover the war from the eastern front.

As a researcher, reporter, industrialist and reformer, Bly was a model of progress and achievement for women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 
(For a "history" of Nellie Bly, see a transcript (on my mirrored site) for the PBS Television show "American Experience: Around the World in 72 Days")

Because of her connection to Jules Verne and Around the World in 80 Days it is quite natural to add items connected to Nellie Bly to a Jules Verne Collection.
The closest connection to Verne, must surely be the 1890's board game "Around the World with Nellie Bly"

Various autographs seen for sale:
Autograph Note Signed on Nellie Blys Engraved Calling Card
New York December 29,1893
Autograph note signed written on the verso of her calling card: 
"When I start a dog society, my personal fondest dream, and you send a liberal - or otherwise - contribution to it. Ill have a photograph taken for your collection. Sincerely, Nellie Bly, New York, Dec. 29, 1893." 
On the front which has her printed name and address (which she has handcorrected) Bly writes: 
"I dearly dote on thanks and so I send you my autograph."

Lyrics of the song from which Nellie Bly took her name
(the name was mis-spelled (Nellie, instead of Nelly) when she was given it as a suggestion:
"Nelly Bly" by Stephen J. Foster
 Nelly Bly! Nellie Bly! Bring de broom along,
We'll sweep the kitchen clean, my dear, and hab a little song. 
Poke de wood, my lady lub, And make de fire burn,
And while I take de banjo down, Just gib de mush a turn. 

Heigh! Nelly Ho! Nelly, listen, lub, to me,
I'll sing for you and play for you a dulcem melody. 

Nelly Bly hab a voice like de turtle dove,
I hear it in de meadow and I hear it in de grove. 

Nelly Bly hab a heart warm as it can be,
And bigger dan de sweet potato down in Tennessee. 

Heigh! Nelly Ho! Nelly, listen, lub, to me,
I'll sing for you and play for you a dulcem melody. 

Nelly Bly! Nelly Bly! Nebber, nebber sigh,
And nebber bring de tear drop to de corner ob your eye. 

For pie is made ob punkins and de mush is made ob corn,
And der's corn and punkins plenty, lub, a lyin in de barn. 

Heigh! Nelly Ho! Nelly! listen, lub, to me,
I'll sing for you and play for you a dulcem melody.

Reference / Further Reading (taken from the PBS: American Experience webpage)
Abramson, Phillis Leslie. "Sob Sister Journalism." Atlanta: Greenwood Press, 1990. 
Alland, Alexander. "Jacob A. Riis: Photographer & Citizen." New York: Aperture Foundation, Inc., 1973. 

Barth, Gunther. "City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America." New York: Oxford University Press, 1980. 

Beasley, Maurine H. and Sheila J. Gibbons. "Taking Their Place: A Documentary History of Women and Journalism." Washington, D.C.: The American University Press, 1993. 

Belford, Barbara. "Brilliant Bylines. "A Biographical Anthology of Notable Newspaperwomen in America." New York: Columbia University Press, 1986. 

Bly, Nellie. "Nellie Bly's Book: Around the World in Seventy-Two Days." New York: Pictorial Weekly, 1890. 

Bly, Nellie. "Ten Days in a Madhouse." New York: Norman L. Munro, 1887. 

Chevigny, Bell Gale. "The Woman and the Myth: Margaret Fuller's Life and Writings." Old Westbury NY: Feminist Press, 1990. 

Fitzpatrick, Ellen. "Endless Crusade: Woman Social and Progressive Reform." New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. 

Kroeger, Brooke. "Nellie Bly, Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist." New York: Random House, 1994. 

Marzolf, Marion Tuttle. "Up From the Footnote: A History of Women Journalists." New York: Hastings House, 1977. 

Mills, Kay. "A Place in the News: From the Women's Pages to the Front Page." New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1988. 

Rittenhouse, Mignon. "The Amazing Nellie Bly." Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1956. 

Robertson, Nan. "The Girls in the Balcony." New York: Random House, 1992. 

Sherr, Lynn. "Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in her Own Words." New York: Times Books Random House, 1995. 

Stephens, Mitchell. "A History of News: From the Drum to the Satellite." New York: Penguin Books, 1988.

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