Circle the globe with Following Nellie Bly: Her Record-Breaking Race Around the World. She’s trailblazing through 2023!


Reviews from New York Journal of Books, Goodreads, Discovery, Amazon

‘The extraordinary tale of Nellie Bly, who in 1890 beat Phileas Fogg at his own game by circumnavigating the globe for real in less than 80 days, was all but forgotten until a modern adventurer retraced the pioneering traveller’s footsteps to retell her story.’ Daily Express


Both Bly and Brown are delightful travel companions…Perfect for armchair travellers and those who enjoy narrative history or biography.”

“I am absolutely amazed, and thrilled, to find out about your trip around the world, à la Nellie Bly, and to read your account of it in Following Nellie Bly. And needless to say to hear that Eighty Days was helpful to you in your travels. Just know how impressed I am with your travels — you’re a worthy descendant of Nellie.” — Matthew Goodman, bestselling author of Eighty Days


Following Nellie Bly: Her Record-Breaking Race Around the World transports us on a global trail as real-time travel begins to open up.Read more reviews.

I set off 125 years later to retrace Nellie Bly’s footsteps in an expedition registered with the Royal Geographical Society. Through the recreation of that epic global journey, I aim to bring to life Nellie Bly’s remarkable achievements and shine the light on one of the world’s greatest female adventurers …  and a forgotten heroine of history. Please join Nellie and me on our global journeys in the pages of Following Nellie Bly.

Nellie Bly On Stage

In a wonderfully re-invented, rip-roaring version of Around the World in 80 Days, Nellie Bly joins Phileas Fogg on a global journey now touring the United Kingdom with Tilted Wig Productions. Adapted and directed by Juliet Forster of York Theatre Royal, the irresistible production unites circus skills, slapstick and movement — all performed by a super talented troupe of five. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live at the York Theatre Royal and at Beck Theatre in Hayes where I joined the cast for a Q&A. And in another tribute to our once-forgotten globetrotter, Shedlight Stories presented Around the World with Nellie Bly as part of London’s Vault Festival.

Photos: (above) Around the World in 80 Days with cast left to right: Wilson Benedito, Eddie Mann, Katriona Brown, Genevieve Sabherwal and Alex Phelps. (Below) show poster, Katriona Brown as Nellie Bly holding Following Nellie Bly, and the Q&A at Beck Theatre.

Around the World with Nellie Bly with Shedlight Stories’ artistic director Nell Thomas, me, McGinty the monkey and actor Katie Overstall.

Following Nellie Bly back at The Royal Geographical Society: SAVE THE DATE

Join me on 13 February 2023 for an afternoon talk about Nellie Bly’s Record-Breaking Race Around the World at the Royal Geographical Society in London. We’ll circle the globe with this trailblazing journalist who defied convention by travelling alone, with just a Gladstone bag, to beat the fictional 80-day record of Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg. In a triumphant return in 1890, Nellie Bly had completed the journey in 72 days achieving ‘the most remarkable of all feats of circumnavigation ever performed by a human being’ according to The New York World. 125 years later I followed in her footsteps to get this forgotten heroine ‘back on the map.’ RGS members are free; guests £5. Online and in person. Here’s the information. I would love to see you!

Nellie Bly fans united last autumn at the Royal Geographical Society for a Monday Night Lecture by BBC presenter Martine Croxall. Question time included Louisa Treger, author of Madwoman and Nicki Stiastny and me (holding a replica of Nellie’s travel bag). From left to right: me, Louisa Treger, Martine Croxall, Nicky Stiastny and RGS director Prof Joe Smith.

Out and About with Nellie Bly in September

Nellie Bly is making the rounds this month. I have the honour of sharing her global journey with members of The Federation of International Women’s Associations (FIWAL) 20 September in London.

For the Books and Boots Festival, featuring the wonderful combination of country walks and literary talks, I’ll be on the road to Richmond, Yorkshire to present Following Nellie Bly on 23 September alongside Jacki Hill Murphy and The Life and Travels of Isabella Bird.  On 24 September at Books and Boots, I’ll be in conversation with bestselling writer Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo and Songbirds, along with world expert on bees and founder of The Buzz Project, Dr Ryad Alsous.

Back in London, the life and lessons of our intrepid journalist and traveller will take centre stage in the Royal Geographical Society’s Ondaatje Theatre when BBC news presenter Martine Croxall delivers ‘Investigating Nellie Bly: reflections on journalism and the power of curiosity’ for the Monday night lecture on 26 September. Last spring, Martine walked away with the BBC Celebrity Mastermind programme trophy when she aced the competition using Nellie as her specialist subject. I’m thrilled to be joining Martine on stage for questions following her lecture along with fellow Nellie Bly aficionados Louisa Treger, author of Madwoman and Nicki Stiastny, Martine’s friend and colleague who, like me, re-traced Nellie’s world trip. 

Happy birthday Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly was born on 5 May 1864 which would make her 158-years-old in 2022. In the run-up to her birthday you can read the latest news about her here and listen to podcasts about her here. For her 151st birthday, Google created a Google Doodle that you can watch here.

Nellie Bly’s 151st birthday was celebrated with a Google doodle. Google animation by Katie Wu. Music by Karen O of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs.
Nellie Bly ‘spoke up for those told to shut up’. Animation by Katie Wu for Google.

Join us to celebrate the life and legacy of Nellie Bly

Please join artist Amanda Matthews, creator of The Girl Puzzle monument, and I on Tuesday February 15th at 6.30 pm EST as we celebrate the life and legacy of Nellie Bly. Free registration here…/clone-rihs-lecture-footsteps… (library barcode not necessary). Thanks to the New York Public Library and Roosevelt Island Historical Society.

A Monumental Tribute to Nellie Bly: The Girl Puzzle is unveiled

The Girl Puzzle honouring the life and legacy of Nellie Bly was dedicated on 10 December 2021.

“Nellie Bly told the stories of other women. Now her own extraordinary story is being told in a monumental installation on Roosevelt Island in New York City.” Amanda Matthews, artist and creator of The Girl Puzzle monument celebrating Nellie Bly.  

“This installation is spiritual. It’s not just faces. It’s not just concrete and bronze. It’s a spirit of love, a spirit of peace. There’s hope here.” Cutia Bacon Brown, social worker whose face is among those representing women from diverse or marginalised communities in The Girl Puzzle.

Journalist Nellie Bly made history on Roosevelt Island in New York City in 1887. On 10 December 2021 she did it again. I was there.

The Girl Puzzle monument, honouring the life and legacy of Nellie Bly, was unveiled steps away from the scene where she pioneered a brave new journalism. Investigative reporting was born when Bly feigned madness to investigate the brutality suffered by vulnerable women committed to the insane asylum on the island bordering Manhattan.  Her accounts in The New York World and book Ten Days in a Mad-House horrified the public and brought about sweeping changes.  

Named after her first published piece in which Bly boldly defied discrimination, The Girl Puzzle celebrates  America’s first investigative journalist who challenged injustice in asylums, prisons, sweat shops —  and gave voices to the voiceless. Like The Girl Puzzle’s creator, artist Amanda Matthews of Prometheus Art (right), I and many others have worked to retrieve Nellie Bly from history and transport her – and all that she represents — into the 21st century to inspire us.

Although I most admire Bly for her investigative journalism, she is best known for her race around the world in 72 days in 1889-90 – alone with just a Gladstone bag – to beat Phileas Fogg’s fictional 80-day record. To pay tribute to her I followed in Nellie Bly’s global footsteps 125 years later. Following Nellie Bly: Her Record-Breaking Race Around the World captures both of our journeys.  

The Girl Puzzle monument represents the culmination of my goal. Nellie’s role has been acknowledged in a remarkable memorial celebrating her journalism and the humanitarian values she embraced. Ground-breaking in many ways, the Girl Puzzle also helps to address a shocking imbalance — less than 8 percent of statues in America commemorate women.

The monument consists of five 7-foot bronze faces and progressively larger mirrored spheres that reflect the impact of her reporting. Bly’s face is joined by four others representing women from diverse or marginalised communities who have overcome challenges.

Noting that the dedication was held on United Nations Human Rights Day, artist Amanda Matthews said: “Nellie Bly began her journey as a girl who dared not to be defined by someone else and emerged a woman who transcended her time and changed the world, leaving it a better place. I realised that the best way to honour Nellie Bly is to continue her work of advocacy into the 21st century.”

The Girl Puzzle monument to Nellie Bly is complete!

from Amanda Matthews,sculptor/designer/CEO PROMETHEUS Art

The Girl Puzzle honours journalist and humanitarian Nellie Bly
(c)Artist Amanda Matthews of Prometheus Art 2020

Nellie Bly told the stories of other women. Now her own extraordinary story is being told in a monumental installation just completed on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

Bly experienced the plight of those who are marginalized. She wrote stories that would move the needle toward equality and progress, especially for women. Highly regarded as America’s first investigative journalist, she set a precedent for what it means to be a voice for the voiceless. 

The Girl Puzzle is not yet open to the public, but can be seen through the construction fence. An upcoming dedication ceremony is being planned in December 2021.

Nellie Bly’s face is cast in silver bronze. (c)Artist Amanda Matthews/Prometheus Art 2020

The Girl Puzzle honours Nellie Bly by presenting, on a monumental scale, faces of many women who have endured hardship, but are stronger for it. The monument gives visibility to Asian, Black, Young, Old, Immigrant, and Queer women. Their stories and lives are forever commemorated alongside Nellie Bly, whose face is cast in silver bronze, while the other four faces are cast in bronze. Each of them, rendered in partial sections that appear like giant puzzle pieces, show a depth of emotion and complexity of being broken and repaired. Three mirrored spheres reflect the significant phases of Bly’s life: her early career in journalism, her impersonation of madness to gain entry into the asylum as an undercover reporter, and her 72-day trip around the world recounted in Following Nellie Bly: Her Record-Breaking Race Around the World.

​The installation is dually inspired by Bly’s incredible response to bigotry which became her first published headline in 1885, The Girl Puzzle; and by her seminal work, Ten Days in a Madhouse, that shaped her life of dedication and empathy for others.

For more information, read this inspiring account by Shannon Eblen.

In conversation with Rosemary Brown and Jacki Hill-Murphy at London’s iconic Stanfords

The adventures of trailblazers Nellie Bly and Isabella Bird came to life as Jacki Hill-Murphy and I shared their stories at Stanfords Travel Bookshop in Covent Garden, London on 15 July. We interviewed each other about our travel heroines and their legacies before turning it over to our full-house audience for a lively Q & A session. Many thanks to Stanfords for inviting us and to our lovely audience for joining us.

AROUND THE WORLD with Nellie Bly and Isabella Bird

Live at Stanfords, London on 15 July 2021 at 7pm

The life and journeys of two trailblazing women and their amazing adventures! Travel the world with Nellie Bly and Isabella Bird as Jacki and I recount their adventures and our own re-enactments of them straight from our newly-released books Following Nellie Bly and The Life and Travels of Isabella Bird. Join us live at Stanfords, the world’s biggest and best map and travel bookshop.