We’re five weeks out from the release of my newest book, A Race Around the World: The True Story of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland. I’m devoting the next five Tuesdays to all things Nellie and Elizabeth. I hope you enjoy!
Two lady journalists embark on a race:
Both Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland were journalists, true pioneers when it came to their work. At the time of their race, only two percent of American journalists were women.
The idea for the race was Nellie’s. Her goal was to beat the fictional record set by Phileas Fogg in the popular book, Around the World in 80 Days. Unbeknownst to Nellie for much of the trip, she wasn’t just racing to beat Fogg’s record. She was also competing against fellow journalist Elizabeth Bisland, whose publisher convinced her to set out hours after Nellie left — Nellie traveling east, Elizabeth traveling west. The race drew interest from across the globe and quickly became an international story. Today’s post is a collection of headlines I gathered while doing my research.
The race gets underway:
The New York World, evening edition (November 14, 1889) A GIRL’S FEAT. Nellie Bly Starts Out on a Wondrous Flying Trip Around the Globe.
Daily Alta California (November 20, 1889) MISS BISLAND’S JOURNEY. She Will Attempt to Make Fast Time Around the World. RACING AGAINST NELLY BLY.
Trouble in Ceylon:
The World (December 12, 1889): NELLIE BLY DELAYED
The race intensifies:
St. Louis Republic (January 16, 1890): “Nellie Bly…is due in San Francisco the 22nd of this month. …A four days’ ride…will bring her here on the same day on which Miss Bisland arrives. A few hours either way will, therefore, probably decide the race.”
San Francisco Examiner (January 22, 1890): Nellie Bly Hastens On
Chicago Herald (January 22, 1890): Nellie Bly’s Fast Run
Philadelphia Inquirer (January 24, 1890): Nellie Comes A-Rushing
Pittsburgh Press (January 24, 1890): The Nell for Bisland (Poor Elizabeth!)
Topeka Daily Capital (January 24, 1890): “Vim, enterprise, and phenomenal activity and high courage unite in the person of Miss Nellie Bly…She proves that woman leads and man follows; that the earth in none too large for a woman’s conquest…”
The New York World (January, 26, 1890): Father Time Outdone!
Milwaukee Sentinel (January 25, 1890): Beating Her Time
Chicago Herald (January 26, 1890): Nellie Bly Beats Time
The New York World, (January 25, 1890): Home Again: “Hurrah for Nellie Bly!”
Chicago Tribune (January 25, 1890): Two Days to Spare
And as for Elizabeth…:
New York Herald: (January 31, 1890): Miss Bisland Completes Her Long Trip
While only Nellie only officially won, in some ways both women were winners. Nellie earned the recognition she longed for, becoming, for a time, the most famous journalist in the world. Elizabeth gained the opportunity to see the places she’d read about in books. Just months after the race, Elizabeth returned to England. There she befriended artists and authors, continued with her writing, and met her husband, who traveled with her when she returned to countries she’d visited years before. Most of the trip they spent in Japan, a country Elizabeth had come to love more than anywhere else in the world.
Nellie came up with the idea for the around-the-world trip. Elizabeth had the trip thrust upon her. Nellie is remembered to this day. Elizabeth is largely forgotten to history. Yet both traveled faster than Phileas Fogg, turning his imaginary voyage into a real-life accomplishment, something no one—man or woman—had ever done before.
Click through to pre-order your copy of A Race Around the World: The True Story of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, coming October 1!
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