Jules Gabriel Verne was born on February 8, 1828, the eldest son of a lawyer, in the provincial port of Nantes, France. His education was typical of that of a middle-class nineteenth century family, since his parents intended for him to take over his father’s legal office. According to family legend, Verne was a good student, but he entertained daydreams of adventure, leading to an attempt at the age of eleven to run away to sea. As the eldest son, Verne consented to attend law school despite a lack of interest in the subject, while his younger brother Paul was allowed to follow the more exciting career of captain in the merchant marine.
Family legend also attributes to Verne a childhood love for a cousin. In order to get Verne out of the way during her engagement, he was sent to Paris to continue his studies. While in the capital, Verne became close to the popular novelist Alexandre Dumas, pèere and frequented literary and theatrical groups. He was soon trying his hand at vaudeville as well as tragedy.
Although he had successfully completed his law degree in 1848, Verne refused to return to Nantes. He began to publish in the journal Musée des families. In Parisian salons, he met explorers and scientists and began to use what he could learn from them for his stories.
In 1856, Verne met Honorine de Viane, a young widow with two daughters. Her brother was a financial agent, and Verne decided that that line of work would be the ideal way for him to earn a living while writing. Verne married Honorine in 1857; his only child, a son, Michel, was born in 1861. The following year, Verne met the publisher P. J. Hetzel, who was especially interested in books for youngsters. In 1863, Hetzel published Verne’s first novel, Cinq Semaines en ballon (1863; Five Weeks in a Balloon, 1876). The success of the book owed something to the exploit of the balloonist Nadar the same year. Verne continued to publish serially in the Musée des families and in volume form and published Voyage au centre de la terre (1864; A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 1872). The following year, he signed a contract with...
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