‘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 27 May 2021
“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
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.
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.
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.
Following Nellie Bly has been hitting the airwaves as the extraordinary tale of the trailblazing journalist, who in 1890 beat Phileas Fogg’s fictional 80-day record, unfolds in America and the United Kingdom in a radio broadcast, a podcast and an online RGS event. In a range of interviews for radio and podcasts, I share how I retraced Nellie Bly’s footsteps to retell her remarkable story 125 years later after her iconic journey. Click the links to listen.
All aboard for a #FollowingNellieBly bookstagram tour departing Monday 10 May for a whirlwind trip around the world. Join Nellie, me and 10 talented book lovers for a globetrotting Instagram journey. Check out the itinerary above on penswordbooks. Bon voyage!
“Settle down in a comfy chair with a cuppa and take a mental trip in the footsteps of Nellie Bly. I enjoyed every page and was left with a desire to go back and read more about Nellie Bly.”
“This book is the story of Nellie, her legacy, her pioneering spirit, her taking on difficult situations head on as well as the author’s quest to emulate the journey with the same winsome spirit.”
“Rosemary J. Brown set off to find Nellie, and she found her in a few places, but the world has changed so much with natural disasters, demolished buildings and other changes that it was hard to find spaces which had remained exactly the same. However, Nellie’s spirit was with her, and she writes vivid and colourful descriptions of her travels.”
“You will learn a lot about engaging Nellie Bly and her personality by reading this book. It is fabulously interesting especially if you are intrigued by world travels, women’s independence in the Victorian age and the undertaking of a contemporary woman in her footsteps. This book prompted me to read more on Nellie Bly so I have requested books from the library.”
“Serendipitous meetings and connections with Nellie’s trip abound as though her spirit is accompanying Brown. The reader will appreciate the historic background provided by Brown in every location.”
“I enjoyed the author’s lively writing style and I loved learning about the history of each country Brown visited. I also found myself wanting to visit each place and have added more countries to my travel bucket list!”
Trailblazing journalist Nellie Bly is back on the front pages again as magazines and newspapers pay tribute to the courage and ‘can-do’ approach that sent her whirling around the world in 1889-90 — alone with just the clothes on her back.
In a special themed issue on breaking barriers and exploration, Harper’s Bazaar UK April 2021featured ‘On the Trail of Nellie Bly’ in its pages. Editor Lydia Slater described Nellie as “… the pioneering journalist who took on Phileas Fogg (and beat him) in an era when it was shocking for a woman to travel without a chaperone.”
Nellie Bly is a cover girl in the current issue of Third Age Matterswhich features a four-page article with edited excerpts from my book.
The People’s Friend magazine highlighted Following Nellie Bly in its This Week We’re Loving feature in the 27 March 2021 issue calling her a pioneer of investigative journalism, and a campaigner who believed that nothing is impossible. A double-page spread following Nellie Bly’s life and travels appeared in the 26 June issue.
To mark International Women’s Day 2021, The Guardian featured five writers who told how the pioneering adventurers of the past inspired their own epic trips — including me and Nellie Bly.In the Footsteps of Great Female Explorersnotes how Nellie Bly was bent on winning the race whatever it took – dismissing Victorian propriety, and the fear of what lay ahead.
Travel the world with Nellie Bly and me in this recording of the Royal Geographical Society online event on 7 April 2021 where Following Nellie Bly was launched. Join adventurer and host Jacki Hill-Murphy as we explore Nellie Bly’s iconic circumnavigation of the globe in 1889-90… and my re-enactment of it. With thanks to the Royal Geographical Society and Jacki Hill-Murphy and Helena Parsons of the West of England and South Wales Committee. Watch here.
Travel the world with Nellie Bly and me in a re-enactment of her iconic circumnavigation of the globe in 1890 during a free online event for the Royal Geographical Society Wednesday 7 April from 7.30-9 pm (GMT). Adventuress Jacki Hill-Murphy will be in the interviewer’s seat as we explore Nellie Bly’s record-breaking travels when she spun around the world in 72 days to beat Phileas Fogg’s fictional 80-day record. I followed in her footsteps 125 years later to get her ‘back on the map.’ Book your free place here.
Female adventurers Nellie Bly, Isabella Bird, Dorothy Wordsworth, Freya Stark and Nan Shepherd came together with the women who re-traced their epic journeys to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 in The Guardian on 8 March 2021. In the footsteps of the great female explorers takes us across deserts, up mountains and over oceans — from the Scottish Highlands to the Lake District fells, from India’s lower Himalayas to the Sahara in Morocco … and all around the world.
My contribution to the article explained my goal to reclaim journalist/adventurer Nellie Bly as a role model for my daughter and other millennials. Like me, in re-enacting the travels of their ‘muses’ — Jacki Hill Murphy (Isabella Bird), Kerri Andrews (Dorothy Wordsworth), Alice Morrison (Freya Stark) and Elise Wortley (Nan Shepherd) — paid tribute to women who left their inhibitions at home to walk on the wild side.
I wanted to reclaim Nellie Bly’s place as a role model
Intrepid journalist Nellie Bly circled the world faster than anyone ever had in 1890. She travelled alone, with just a Gladstone bag, and shattered the fictional 80-day record of Phileas Fogg, returning in 72 days after travelling 21,740 miles. The fearless globetrotter had achieved “the most remarkable of all feats of circumnavigation ever performed by a human being,” said the New York World, sponsor of her trip.
She was a global celebrity, now unknown. Determined to get her back on the map, I set off to retrace her epic journey 125 years later to reclaim her place as a role model for my daughter and other millennials. Like Bly, I travelled alone with one small cabin bag. The routes she traversed by ocean liner have all but disappeared so I bought a round-the-world ticket and flew. For more than a month, through eight countries and 22,500 miles, I re-blazed the Nellie Bly trail over Europe to Asia before crossing the international dateline to America to re-enact her daring departure and triumphant arrival in New York City.
In London I followed the streets she hurried through in a horse-drawn brougham to the former headquarters of P&O Steamship Company (in Leadenhall Street) to book her passages around the world. In the salon at Jules Verne’s home in Amiens, France, I imagined her conversing with Verne, the novelist who inspired her trip, as Robert Sherard, confidant of Oscar Wilde and great-grandson of William Wordsworth, translated.
In Colombo, Sri Lanka, I stayed at the Grand Oriental, the only hotel still standing that she stayed at on her whirlwind tour. When Bly was in Singapore, Orchard Road – now Asia’s most famous shopping street – was a shady lane bounded by nutmeg plantations and orchards. Bly spent Christmas Day in Canton, China (now Guangzhou) touring markets, temples and the more chilling side of the city with its execution ground, lepers’ colony and a jail as harrowing as a torture chamber. To my relief, that sinister side of Canton can no longer be traced. We both rode the historic Peak Tram in Hong Kong, and climbed inside the ancient bronze belly of the Great Buddha in Kamakura, Japan. Rosemary visiting Bly’s grave in Woodlawn cemetery, a National Historic Landmark in the Bronx.
Bly was bent on winning the race whatever it took – dismissing Victorian propriety, the fear of what lay ahead and the need for anything more than the clothes on her back. That same determination had seen her pioneer investigative journalism two years before when she went undercover to reveal atrocities inside a women’s insane asylum. Although I most admire her campaigning journalism, it is her record-breaking race that defines Nellie Bly.
When her race and my re-enactment of it had ended, Nellie Bly and I both shared a profound gratitude for the goodwill shown to us everywhere and a renewed faith in humanity. As she wrote in Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, “To so many people this wide world over am I indebted for kindnesses … They form a chain around the earth.” Rosemary J Brown’s book Following Nellie Bly: Her Record-Breaking Race Around the World, is published by Pen and Sword on 31 March