Most of us have heard of Nellie Bly, a reporter for Joseph Pulitzers World newspaper, who left New York City on November 14, 1889, in a bid to circumnavigate the globe in record-breaking time. Fewer people know that Elizabeth Bisland, who wrote for the Cosmopolitan, left New York on the same day with the same goal in mind. Bly won, but this account covers the journeys of both women-traveling in opposite directions and each, initially, without knowledge of the other. Suspense and fabulous locations; sounds like armchair travel at its best.
On November 14, 1889, Nellie Bly, the crusading young female reporter for Joseph Pulitzers "World" newspaper, left New York City by steamship on a quest to break the record for the fastest trip around the world. Also departing from New York that day--and heading in the opposite direction by train--was a young journalist from "The Cosmopolitan" magazine, Elizabeth Bisland. Each woman was determined to outdo Jules Vernes fictional hero Phileas Fogg and circle the globe in less than eighty days. The dramatic race that ensued would span twenty-eight thousand miles, captivate the nation, and change both competitors lives forever.
The two women were a study in contrasts. Nellie Bly was a scrappy, hard-driving, ambitious reporter from Pennsylvania coal country who sought out the most sensational news stories, often going undercover to expose social injustice. Genteel and elegant, Elizabeth Bisland had been born into an aristocratic Southern family, preferred novels and poetry to newspapers, and was widely referred to as the most beautiful woman in metropolitan journalism. Both women, though, were talented writers who had carved out successful careers in the hypercompetitive, male-dominated world of big-city newspapers. "Eighty Days" brings these trailblazing women to life as they race against time and each other, unaided and alone, ever aware that the slightest delay could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
A vivid real-life re-creation of the race and its aftermath, from its frenzied start to the nail-biting dash at its finish, "Eighty Days" is history with the heart of a great adventure novel. Heres the journey that takes us behind the walls of Jules Vernes Amiens estate, into the back alleys of Hong Kong, onto the grounds of a Ceylon tea plantation, through storm-tossed ocean crossings and mountains blocked by snowdrifts twenty feet deep, and to many more unexpected and exotic locales from London to Yokohama. Along the way, we are treated to fascinating glimpses of everyday life in the late nineteenth century--an era of unprecedented technological advances, newly remade in the image of the steamship, the railroad, and the telegraph. For Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland--two women ahead of their time in every sense of the word--were not only racing around the world. They were also racing through the very heart of the Victorian age.
Praise for "Eighty Days"
"Matthew Goodman takes readers on a riveting ride back to 1889 for the original amazing race. . . . Goodmans eighteen months of meticulous research and his compelling narrative nonfiction being their stories to life in vivid period detail."--"American Way"
"Lively and vivid . . . Goodman is a master storyteller, with no agenda to push, and his armchair tour is a treat to read."--"The Columbus Dispatch"
"In his delightful, well-researched book . . . Matthew Goodman brings to life the two women, the complicated, fast-changing times and the way the whole country was swept up in their parallel adventures. This is fully documented history, drawing on contemporary accounts, letters and the womens own writing, but Goodman crafts it into a page-turner."--Minneapolis "Star Tribune"
"Matthew Goodmans truly exciting account of Blys and Bislands] journeys . . . is also quite a fun trip for his readers. He has the gift of turning meticulous research into vividly imagined details. . . . A fully satisfying portrait of the era."--"BUST" magazine