Jules Verne

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Jules Verne around 1890, photograph by Nadar

Jules-Gabriel Verne , initially Julius Verne in Germany (born February 8, 1828 in Nantes , † March 24, 1905 in Amiens ), was a French writer . He was best known for his novels The Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1869-1870) and Journey around the Earth in 80 Days (1873). Alongside Hugo Gernsback , Kurd Laßwitz and HG Wells , Jules Verne is considered to be one of the founders of science fiction literature.


Verne grew up in the shipping district of the port city of Nantes as the eldest of five children of a lawyer and his wife from shipping circles. At the age of eleven, he is said to have secretly tried to embark on a sea voyage as a cabin boy , but was taken off board at the last moment. He spent his school days at Catholic private schools in his hometown and finished there in 1846 at the state grammar school. He then went to Paris to study law because he was supposed to take over his father's legal practice.

As a student at the latest, however, he began to write and got in touch with the world of Parisian writers, a. a. to Alexandre Dumas , who patronized him somewhat, and to his son Alexandre Dumas the younger , with whom he befriended.

Jules Verne 1856
Caricature from 1884

He therefore stayed in Paris after completing his studies (1849) and initially tried his hand at various dramatic genres, from tragedy to opera libretto . In 1851 a first piece was accepted by a literary magazine in which two stories by him appeared in the same year. Verne never let go of their subjects 'seafaring' or 'balloon flight', even if he continued to write texts with a completely different topic for a long time.

In 1852 he became secretary to the artistic director of the Paris Théâtre-Lyrique , for which he produced pieces over the next few years, partly alone and partly in a team of authors. At the same time, he continued to write stories with different themes, including the 1855 travel-adventure story Un hivernage dans les glaces ( Winter in the ice ).

In 1857 he married a widow with two children. In 1861 she gave birth to a son, Michel . For a few years he was moderately successful in the civil profession of a stockbroker . On the side (1859 and 1861) he made boat trips to Scotland and Norway with his friend, the composer Aristide Hignard , which opened up the world of seafaring to him. The first trip was the basis of the novel Voyage à reculons en Angleterre et Écosse ( Journey with obstacles to England and Scotland ), which was not published during Verne's lifetime.

But he still tried to write. Ultimately, the decisive factor was that he met the bustling youth book publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel in 1862 . He brought out his first science fiction travel novel, Cinq semaines en ballon ( Five Weeks in a Ballon ), which he had just finished , took him under contract for other novels of the same style and guided him to writing with an audience appeal. At the latest through Hetzel, Verne also came into contact with naturalists and inventors, who expanded his knowledge, advised him professionally and helped him to come up with ideas, which he collected in an immense note box .

With the success of the Five Weeks in the Ballon , Verne had his breakthrough as an author, but this work was not an immediate best seller, but was sold continuously in several editions over four decades. In the following years he wrote numerous novels, most of which appeared in continuation in Hetzel's youth magazine Magazin illustré d'éducation et de récréation (Illustrated for Education and Recreation), which was founded in 1864 , before they were published as a book. His real domain here were and remained travel and adventure novels with a more or less large proportion of science fiction, which Hetzel therefore marketed under the heading Voyages extraordinaires (extraordinary trips). With a lot of scientific and technical intuition, Verne anticipated some of the developments that were realized later, whereby this only concerned the literature of the first 12 years after the first work.

His best known novels are: Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras ( Adventure of Captain Hatteras , 1864/65); Voyage au center de la Terre ( Journey to the Center of the Earth , 1864); De la Terre à la Lune ( From the earth to the moon , 1865); Autour de la Lune ( Journey around the Moon , 1869); Vingt mille lieues sous les mers ( Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , 1869). His greatest success came in 1872, Le Tour du monde en 80 jours ( Journey around the earth in 80 days ), which he also adapted for the theater with Adolphe d'Ennery as co-author. In 1876, the political adventure thriller Michel Strogoff ( The Czar's Courier ), set in Siberia, was published with a similar success and was also made into one piece.

At least since Le Tour du monde , Verne had been a respected and rich man. He made numerous journeys by train and ship. B. with the largest passenger steamer of the time, the Great Eastern , to the USA, and from 1866 also with its own sailing and finally steamer yachts on the canal, the North and Baltic Seas and in the Mediterranean. He also had a representative house in Amiens , his wife's hometown, where he had lived since 1870. That year he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor . He was also accepted - unusual for a non-British - into the renowned London Travelers Club .

Jules Verne's desk in his townhouse in Amiens (now a museum)

However, he was troubled by his son Michel, whom he had temporarily given to an educational institution in 1876 at the age of 15 and with whom he was reconciled only in 1888.

In 1883 his attempts to bring himself into play as a candidate for the Académie Française failed . Obviously his writings were not accepted as serious literature by the other “Académiciens”. Even today, Verne is usually only mentioned incidentally in traditional literary historiography.

In 1886 he was seriously injured by a pistol shot by a deranged nephew and was disabled. In 1888 he began to be active in local politics and was elected several times as a city councilor in Amiens, where he initially belonged to the left , later to the center- right and was involved in urban planning and the municipal theater. In 1898, during the Dreyfus affair , he was counted among the "anti- Dreyfus billions", but in 1899 he campaigned for the proceedings to be resumed.

On March 17, 1905, Jules Verne suffered an attack of diabetes. He died seven days later on March 24, 1905.

After his death, his son published numerous works from the estate.

Reception and naming

In 1909,
Max Popp published Julius Verne and his work, the first major German biography (from the collection of Wolfgang Thadewald ).

Since the epoch was marked by accelerated technical progress and at the same time by the last great voyages of discovery, Verne's books, which were aimed primarily at a younger and educated, mostly male audience, did well not only in France, but thanks to translations also throughout Europe and America a. Some of his novels are constantly being reprinted to this day.

In 1910, a monument to Jules Verne created by Georges Bareau was unveiled in his native Nantes.

In the 20th century, Verne's storytelling novels attracted many filmmakers. It is no coincidence that the first nuclear submarine in the world, the American USS Nautilus , received the name of the futuristic submarine Nautilus in 1954 under the leadership of the fictional character Captain Nemo from Vingt mille lieues sous les mers . In the science fiction - film comedy Back to the Future Part III , the main characters designate Dr. Emmett Brown and Clara Clayton have their children together, Jules and Verne, named after their favorite author.

The Jules Verne Trophy is named after Jules Verne , an award for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by sailing boat. Furthermore, the first ATV (an unmanned space transporter of the European Space Agency ESA ) is called Jules Verne, as is a small mountain range in the north of the Île de la Possession (in the Indic ) and an impact crater on the far side of the moon . The asteroid (5231) Verne has been named since 1995 , as has the lunar crater Jules Verne since 1961 and Mount Verne in Antarctica since 1948 .

In 1999, Verne was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame .

The Jules Verne Club , founded in 2000, is the only literary association that focuses on the German-language reception of Jules Verne's works.


Title page of Around the World in 80 Days , 1875 with an illustration by the illustrator Léon Benett
Cover illustration from the French original edition of The 500 Million of Begum with an illustration by the illustrator Léon Benett
Cover picture of the French original edition of Two Years of Vacation published by Hetzel-Verlag with an illustration by the illustrator Léon Benett
Title page of the original French edition of The Invention of Doom with an illustration by the illustrator Léon Benett
The crash of the Epouvante. Lord of the world

Illustration from the novel The Lighthouse at the End of the World , drawn by George Roux


The following works from the Jules Verne estate were more or less revised and published by his son Michel Verne :

The following works also come from the Jules Verne estate:

Short stories and short stories

Illustration by Lorenz Froelich for the short story Meister Zacharius

Stage works

  • La mille et deuxième nuit . 1850; with Michel Carré ; Music: Aristide Hignard ; lost
  • Le colin-maillard . 1853; with Michel Carré; Music: Aristide Hignard
  • The Compagnons de la Marjolaine . 1855; with Michel Carré; Music: Aristide Hignard
  • Monsieur de Chimpanzé . 1858; with Michel Carré; Music: Aristide Hignard
  • Le page de Madame de Marlborough . 1858; Attribution to Verne doubtful; Music: Frédéric Barbier
  • L'auberge des Ardennes . 1860; with Michel Carré; Music: Aristide Hignard
  • Voyage à travers l'impossible - first performed on November 25, 1882


  • Geography de la France et de ses colonies . 1867
  • Découverte de la Terre . 1870/1878
  • Les Grands Navigateurs du XVIIIe Siècle . 1879
  • Les Explorateurs du XIXe siècle . 1880


Film adaptations (selection)

Secondary literature

The liveliness of style in the portrayal of Jules Verne , dissertation from 1933
  • Franz Born: The man who invented the future . Markus, Eupen 1960.
  • Peter Costello: Jules Verne: Inventor of Science Fiction . Qalandar, Aalen 1979, ISBN 978-3-922121-09-1 .
  • Volker Dehs : Jules Verne with self-testimonies and photo documents . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1986, ISBN 3-499-50358-1 ( Rowohlt Monographs , Volume 358).
  • Volker Dehs: Jules Verne. A critical biography. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2005, ISBN 3-538-07208-6 .
  • Volker Dehs: Bibliographical Guide through Jules Verne Research / Guide bibliographique à travers la critique vernienne. 1872-2001. Phantastik in Wetzlar e. V., Wetzlar 2002 (= series of publications and materials from the Fantastic Library Wetzlar; 63).
  • Volker Dehs and Ralf Junkerjürgen: Jules Verne. Voices and interpretations of his work . Fantastic Library Wetzlar, Wetzlar 2005 (= series and materials of the Fantastic Library Wetzlar; 75).
  • Roland Innerhofer: "The technology was visible". Jules Verne's staging of the utopian. In: Götz Pochat, Brigitte Wagner (Ed.): Utopie. Forms of society, artists' dreams. Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, Graz 1996 (= Kunsthistorisches Jahrbuch Graz; 26), pp. 153–168.
  • Ralf Junkerjürgen : Jules Verne . WBG Theiss, Darmstadt 2018, ISBN 978-3-8062-3746-7 .
  • Till R. Kuhnle: The trauma of progress. Four studies on the pathogenesis of literary discourses . Stauffenburg, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-86057-162-1 ; Part I: “Jules Verne: Thinking through the 19th Century - An Experiment”, pp. 21–122.
  • Thomas Ostwald : Jules Verne, life and work . Pawlak Taschenbuch, Berlin / Hersching 1984, ISBN 3-8224-1101-9 .
  • Max Popp : Julius Verne and his work. The life, works and successors of the great romantic . (PDF; 12 MB) Hartleben, Vienna / Leipzig 1909, in the Arno Schmidt reference library.
  • Heinrich Pleticha (ed.): Jules Verne manual . Publishing house Stuttgart, Stuttgart 1992 (for Deutscher Bücherbund / Bertelsmann Club among others).

Web links

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Works online

Wikisource: Jules Verne  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Jules Verne  - Sources and full texts (French)

Additional information

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Adam Charles Roberts: Science Fiction. Routledge, London / New York 2000, ISBN 0-415-19204-8 , p. 48 .
  2. The main basis for the sections on life, work and reception is Gert Pinkernell : Jules Verne. In: ders .: names, titles and dates of French literature ( online version ). This article is largely based on the Verne article in Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais, Daniel Couty, Alain Ray (eds.): Dictionnaire des littératures de langue française , Paris 1994, Volume 4, pp. 2172-2182.
  3. Elisabeth Edl in the epilogue to Jules Verne: Journey with obstacles to England and Scotland. Zsolnay, Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-552-04861-8 , p. 236 f.
  4. Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer: Classics of children's and youth literature: An international lexicon . JB Metzler, 2004, ISBN 978-3-476-02021-5 , p. 1128 (accessed June 30, 2018).
  5. ^ William Butcher: Jules Verne. The Definitive Biography. Thunder's Mouth Press, New York 2006, pp. Xxxviii.
  6. Berliner Tageblatt, May 29, 1910, p. 7.
  7. planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov , accessed May 8, 2018.
  8. science fiction awards database - Jules Verne . Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  9. ^ Official website of the Jules Verne Club