In the Centenary Year of Women’s Suffrage, Women’s Adventure Expo is celebrating female explorers and adventurers — past and present — in a special event at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 21 June 2018.
The Heritage of Women in Exploration pays tribute to women who, like the Suffragettes, demanded equality, left inhibition at home and journeyed through a man’s world to realise their dreams ; along with today’s women who continue to ‘push the boundaries’ through exploration and adventure.
Nellie Bly’s achievements will be shared along with those of other historical women like Victorian nurse Kate Marsden (1859 – 1931) who trudged thousands of miles across Russia braving sub-zero temperatures in search of a cure for leprosy; and pioneering archaeologists like Gertrude Bell. As well as today’s adventurers like British polar explorer Felicity Aston MBE, the first woman to ski alone across Antarctica who now leads teams of women from around the world on polar expeditions.
“We want to place female explorers and adventurers ‘on the map’ and celebrate their achievements, many of which have been lost to history,” said Tania Hughes, co-founder of Women’s Adventure Expo. “We are saluting their courage and resolve, and promoting them as inspirational role models for all.”
With inspirational characters, archive footage and travel accounts of courageous women, the daytime conference will shine the light on the lives of women explorers in a series of short talks and films delivered by modern explorers and historians. In the evening WAE will present Felicity Aston on ‘Women in the Polar Regions – history through to the present day’.
Tickets are available here
While conducting research for a novel set in the late 1800s, Shonna Slayton, an author for young adults, came across the story of Nellie Bly’s solo trip around the world in 1889 and was amazed. She dug a little deeper and discovered there was another woman reporter, Elizabeth Bisland, who raced against her. Now she was doubly intrigued. She just had to retell their tale. The result is her new novel out now in both print and ebook, Liz and Nellie.
Shonna kindly agreed to treat us to a guest blog for ‘Nellie Bly in the Sky’. You can read more about Shonna and her other novels below in the author’s bio.
When did you first learn about Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland?
Nellie Bly’s name popped up while I was conducting research for another novel. I was fascinated to learn of a young reporter going around the world, unchaperoned, in the Victorian era. I had never heard of her before.
After reading her account, I found out that the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine was reading about Nellie Bly’s trip that morning on his way to work. He thought the New York World newspaper made a mistake sending her east. So he called in one of his writers, Elizabeth Bisland, and asked her to race Nellie, boarding a train headed west that night.
My imagination was lit. I wanted to get their forgotten story out there to more people. Thus my obsession with Liz and Nellie began.
Many people already know who Nellie Bly was, but who was Elizabeth Bisland?
Elizabeth Bisland was also a reporter. She freelanced for a number of newspapers, including the same paper as Nellie Bly, but at the time of their race, Bisland was working for Cosmopolitan magazine, primarily as their book reviewer, though she did write other types of articles.
Which reporter do you relate to the most?
In temperament I most closely relate to Elizabeth Bisland. She did not call attention to herself the way Bly seemed to, rather she diligently went about her work, even when she felt out of her element.
However, I admire Nellie Bly for her courage and her insightfulness. Often she wrote about the marginalized in society, writing about them so others would see them. She was quite an inspiration.
Why did you write this book for teens?
Most books about Nellie Bly are written either for children or adults, but Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland are wonderful examples for teens. They did big things when they were young. They helped open paths for women. They were agents of change. All the buzzwords we toss at teens nowadays for how they should think and act, these ladies were doing back in the 1800s. They were bold. They were daring. They made a difference. And they were real people!
You normally write stories with a fairy-tale twist. Were you tempted to put magic into this story?
The story of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland didn’t need any embellishing. I used their actual words as much as possible, as obtained from their newspaper and magazine articles. The text is more literary than how I normally write, reflecting the conventions of the 1800s. I tried to modernize the text somewhat, to draw in today’s audience, and I toned down Elizabeth Bisland’s highfalutin’ vocabulary.
Of all the places they went on their trip, do you have a favorite?
One of my favorite scenes is when Nellie Bly makes a detour to meet Jules Verne at his house in France. She is curious about him as a fellow writer, and she is curious about what he thinks of her taking on his fictional character. He is quite charming and goes out of his way to make Nellie feel special.
Liz and Nellie was a lot of fun to put together. My characters always feel real to me, but in this case they truly are real. I hope readers enjoy meeting these historical figures as much as I have.
Shonna Slayton writes historical fairy tales for Entangled TEEN. Cinderella’s Dress and Cinderella’s Shoes, set in the 1940s are out now. Spindle, a Sleeping Beauty inspired tale set in the late 1800s, will be out October 2016.
She finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teenagers today. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona.
The best way to keep in touch is by signing up for her monthly newsletter. She sends out behind-the-scenes info you can’t read anywhere else. Sign up is on the sidebar of her website Shonna Slayton.
Sunday 13 March, 11.30 a.m. SOUTHBANK CENTRE, London
As part of the Women of the World Festival 2016, I am inviting women to ignite their own adventurous spirits through the journeys of women explorers — past and present — who defied convention, pushed limits and travelled into the unknown.
In this era of shrinking comfort zones and glitzy role models, I’ll be celebrating women adventurers — women who take a walk on the wild side and explore the world. I’ll be paying tribute to those before us who left inhibition at home and journeyed through a man’s world on awe-inspiring voyages; as well as today’s ‘adventuresses’ who challenge themselves on foot, bikes, skis; in boats, vans, planes…in the true spirit of adventure.
The stories of yesterday’s women adventurers are often lost in time — let’s get them ‘back on the map’ as role models for women in the 21st century — Women of the World like Lady Hester Stanhope, the first Western woman to cross the Syrian Desert; writer and explorer Mary Kingsley; and of course, crusading journalist Nellie Bly who beat Phileas Fogg’s fictional Around the World in 80 Days record 125 years ago.
Today’s women adventurers are not only rowing around Britain (Belinda Kirk), skiing alone across Antarctica (Felicity Aston MBE), and reaching the North and South Poles (Ann Daniels), but also following the footsteps of their predecessors like Isabella Bird, Mary Kingsley and Isabel Godin (Jacki Hill-Murphy), to name but a few. Female explorers are true Women of the World. Join me for a 15 minute WOW Bite on women explorers Sunday 13 March at 11.30 a.m. at the Women of the World Festival.
Nellie Bly beat her own world record on 5 May 2015 when she ‘raced’ around the world in 24 hours. In 1890 Nellie set the record for circling the globe – 72 days by ship and train. 125 years later she sped through cyberspace, adorning the Google homepage as a Google Doodle across continents and countries including the USA, France, Africa, India and Australia.
It was Google’s way of paying tribute to the intrepid journalist/adventurer/humanitarian on the occasion of her 151st birthday. Watch it here.
Nellie was trending all day on twitter in the USA on 5 May, according to Brooke Kroeger, Nellie Bly biographer. An estimated 3.5 billion internet users were exposed to the achievements of the famous reporter through the Google Doodle.
Liat Ben-Rafael, Google Doodle progam manager said: “Throughout her life and career, Nellie Bly spoke up for the underprivileged, the helpless and minorities, and defied society’s expectations for women. So when it came time to honour Nellie with a Doodle, we wanted to make it special.”
Google’s celebrated doodle features a 1.21 min animation and an original song “Oh Nellie.” Written and performed by indie rocker Karen O, lead singer of the USA-based Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, the song formed the basis of the dynamic animation by Katie Wu. The lyrics encourage females ‘to stand up and show us what girls are good for.’
The doodle applauds Nellie’s iconic global voyage and honours her as a reporter who pioneered investigative journalism and burst into male-dominated newsrooms.
“Oh, Nellie, take us all around the world and break those rules ’cause you’re our girl,” the lyrics proclaim. “We wanna make something of ourselves too. Oh Nellie you showed us just what you would do.”
Says Google’s Liat Ben Rafael: “Back in the 19th century, Nellie fearlessly showed a generation of people “what girls are good for.” …We hope Nellie inspires women and girls everywhere to follow in her footsteps and show the world what they can do.”
Nellie’s 151st birthday google doodle is reported as showcasing two firsts. “Oh Nellie” was the first original song commissioned for a google doodle and Katy Wu’s ‘cartoon’ was the first to feature stop-motion animation.
All images used here are courtesy of Google.
Nellie Bly’s Historic Race Around The World Being Developed For Television
By Anita Busch
This article is courtesy of Deadline.com: http://deadline.com/2015/03/nellie-bly-eighty-days-book-television-series-1201384763/
It’s the best of journalism meets The Amazing Race meets Around the World in Eighty Days. Phileas Fogg, move aside. One of the most daring stories in history is that of investigative journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane (aka Nellie Bly) who in 1889 decided she would try to beat the fictional record in Jules Verne’s now classic story and go around the world less than 80 days. At the same time, because competition is the name of the game in journalism, Cosmopolitan sent their own reporter Elizabeth Bisland, out to beat not only the 80-day fictional Phileas Fogg record but also try to one-up Bly who was working for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World newspaper.
Now that story, based on Matthew Goodman’s bestselling book, “Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World” is being developed for television by Zero Gravity Management’s Christine Holder and Mark Holder with producer Lloyd Levin (Boogie Nights, United 93, Watchmen) and Beatriz Levin.
“We are developing it as a limited show and talking to creators now,” said Zero Gravity’s Marc Holder. “After that, we’ll go to talent. People have tried to explore her story from her days undercover at a woman’s insane asylum, but not many people have tried to delve into this particular story. Goodman just did such a wonderful job with this book. They are both courageous women and this story is really inspiring.”
The race started on November 14, 1889 and each reporter left from New York, but went the opposite way around the world. The story grabbed headlines at the time and enthralled readers who were kept on the edge of the seats as each reporter filed stories about their dramatic and sometimes dangerous adventures. The race spanned over 24,000 miles using railroads and steamships as their main mode of transportation.
Beyond captivating the nation, the lives of both the well-respected journalist Bly and her competitor Bisland were forever changed by the journey. Bly ended up winning the race by four and a half days and set a world record. She had circumnavigated the globe in 72 days.
Nellie Bly is ‘back on the front page’ as a chart-topper in the historical, convention-busting, inspiring and feminist leagues.
“No one but a man can do this,” Nellie Bly’s editor told her when she suggested travelling round the world in less than 80 days. She would need a protector, he said – and how would she ever carry all the luggage a lady would need on such a trip? Bly didn’t worry too much about the first quibble, and travelled light, crushing all her belongings into a single handbag. She made it home in 72 days. That wasn’t the first time the pioneering American journalist had attracted attention through her work – a year earlier, in 1887, she faked madness to go undercover in an asylum, exposing its poor conditions and abusive staff.” Here’s the entire list of 10 Best Feminists
In 10 Books About Innovative Women You Should Know More About, Kathleen Culliton names Nellie Bly: Daredevil. Reporter.Feminist by Brooke Kroeger. This is what she says on online site Bustle:
“Here’s what I love about stories of women who innovate: they’re two stories. First you’ve got the story of the brilliant idea, or the world-changing artifact, the traveling of the globe, the charting of the star, the rallying of the people. Then, you’ve got the story of how the hell a woman got people to listen to her in the first place. These are stories not just of human beings who were crazy-smart, but women who were as tough as nails… Journalist Nellie Bly faked insanity to get committed in an asylum. She reported on its atrocities as she experienced them. When that was done, she circled the globe.”
Brooke Kroeger wrote this book because she could not find a single reliable source that accurately captured the story of Nellie Bly. Instead of a credible biography, she found brief encyclopedia entries and children’s books. And she was baffled because Bly not only had a major impact on journalism, but a fascinating life. In an age that relegated women reporters to the ‘Homes and Gardens’ section of the newspaper, Bly faked her own insanity to gain admission into and report on one of the nation’s most notorious insane asylums and effectively invented stunt journalism.”
Here’s the full list of 10 Books about Inspirational Women You Should Know More About.
Online worldwide news site Buzzfeed named Nellie Bly as one of the Top 12 Historical Women Who Didn’t Give a ‘you know what’.
“Nellie Bly was a daring and influential investigative journalist who wrote groundbreaking stories about political corruption and poverty. She once faked madness in order to report undercover from an abusive mental institution in New York City, which led to outcry and reform. Her jealous peers referred to her investigations as “stunt reporting”, but Nellie, of course, didn’t give a x*!x*! about those whiny little x*!x*! Oh, and she once travelled around the world in a record-breaking 72 days, just ‘cause. Here’s the post.
She was named among the top 7 of inspiring ‘convention-breaking‘ women by Mother Nature Network who said:
Nellie Bly was an investigative journalist who went undercover in a mental hospital to secure a job at a newspaper when she moved to New York City. She wrote about her experience spending 10 days in a mental ward: “What, excepting torture, would produce insanity quicker than this treatment? I would like the expert physicians who are condemning me for my action, which has proven their ability, to take a perfectly sane and healthy woman, shut her up and make her sit from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on straight-back benches, do not allow her to talk or move during these hours, give her no reading and let her know nothing of the world or its doings, give her bad food and harsh treatment, and see how long it will take to make her insane. Two months would make her a mental and physical wreck.”
Following that blockbuster story, Bly circled the world in 72 days in imitation of Jules Verne’s book, married a millionaire, ran his steel manufacturing company after he died, and developed a number of patents for her business. She covered the suffragist movement in an article titled “Suffragists Are Men’s Superiors” in 1913 but correctly predicted women wouldn’t get the vote until 1920.
See full post here.
“She was a leading woman of her time who was tough and never willing to stand down.”
Megan Laham, 16, Stoneham, Massachusetts
“… 125 years from now, imagine the changes that could occur if we attack inequality with the same fervour that Nellie Bly possessed.”
Callie Slevin, 16, La Crosse, Wisconsin
“She was kind, self-reliant and used her voice as a journalist to help others who didn’t have a voice.”
Rachel Dennis, 13, of Renton, Washington.
“We were delighted to discover an entire branch of journalism (investigative reporting) she had created.”
Jacqui Hale, 16, Bedford, Massachusetts
Recently deemed one of the 12 feistiest women in history by internet news giant Buzzfeed, Victorian journalist Nellie Bly remains among the world’s top 10 female adventurers. Her legacy as a pioneer of investigative journalism, intrepid traveller, feminist and humanitarian lives on in best-selling books, television documentaries and editorials. Her grave in New York’s Woodlawn Cemetery draws a steady stream of visitors, says Susan Olsen, Woodlawn’s Director of Historical Services.
Exactly 125 years after breaking the record for circling the globe and 93 years since her death, Nellie Bly is still ‘alive and well’, especially in the eyes of today’s young women.
“I am always warmed by the abiding interest in the adventures of Nellie Bly,” says Nellie’s biographer Brooke Kroeger, journalist , author and professor at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. “I think it’s remarkable how current she is with the junior set.”
Nellie’s ‘currency with the younger set ‘ is demonstrated by the number of American teenage girls who research her legacy for National History Day (NHD), a nationwide competition to promote history and research skills. Every year since the NHD competition was launched in 1974, Nellie Bly features among the leading entries.
Indeed, at least two projects devoted to Nellie Bly reach the National History Day finals every year, according to Micah Azzano, NHD Director of Public Affairs. Nellie Bly has also been proposed by fans for inclusion on NHD’s list of 100 Significant Leaders in World History where voting is open to the public.
That doesn’t surprise Brooke Kroeger.
“Since the publication of Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist in 1994, I get anywhere from 10 to 30 queries a year from middle school girls — always girls — who have chosen Nellie as their research subject,” says Brooke Kroeger. “It’s impressive how many historical themes for which she incites the imagination.”
Megan Laham, Emily Manfra and Saige Calkins, all 16, of Stoneham, Massachusetts, pooled their imagination and talent for a performance about Nellie Bly that made it all the way to NHD’s state finals last year and received an honourable mention.
“It was good to spread the word of Nellie,” says Megan, 16. “All three of us see Nellie Bly as a role model. Through her works and fighting to get a job as a female reporter, she really set the standards to all reporters.”
Jaqui Hale, Sarah Nosal, Rachel Arnold, all 16, and Nili Ezekiel, 17, of Bedford, Massachusetts, saluted Nellie in their comprehensive website for the NHD competition: Nellie Bly’s Multi-faceted Legacy: Leading a Progressive Generation of Journalists and Social Reformers.
“All of the things that she led during her lifetime then transferred into a lasting legacy in journalism and social reform,” said Jacqui, who represented the group. “…She taught us that women can be brave and accomplish many things as long as they push themselves like she did. She was so helpful to those she considered helpless, and often ignored her own safety because she was set on learning the truth,” says Jacqui.
Rachel Dennis, 13, of Renton, Washington, is putting the finishing touches on a website for NHD’s latest competition.
“Nellie Bly was a leader in journalism, a firm supporter for women’s rights and someone who believed in justice and equality,” says Rachel. “She was most famous for her trip around the world, but she made a difference in many people’s lives by writing articles about the working and living conditions of people less fortunate than her.”
Callie Slevin, 16, of La Crosse, Wisconsin first ‘met’ Nellie Bly at Washington DC’s Newseum where she features in a display and film. Callie’s NHD exhibit Feigning Insanity for the Betterment of Society: Nellie Bly demonstrates Nellie’s courage in revealing the ‘horrid mistreatment of patients in asylums during the late 1800s’ which she endured and wrote about in the newspaper and later in her book Ten Days in a Mad-house.
Callie most admires Nellie’s ‘unending ardour.’ “She not only made waves within the field of journalism, but she made waves as a woman in the field of journalism,” Callie says.
“Her legacy included the lives she changed, but also everyone she inspired to succeed, to fight injustice, and to keep going no matter the difficulty of their situation.”
“I took off my cap and wanted to yell with the crowd, not because I had gone around the world in 72 days, but because I was home again.”
At 3.51 p.m. on 25 January 1890, journalist Nellie Bly completed her epic travels. Her train pulled into Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, signalling the finale of the world journey she completed in 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes. She had raced through a ‘man’s world’ – alone and literally with the clothes on her back — to beat the fictional record set by Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg. She was said to be the most famous woman in the world that day. After crossing three oceans and four continents, she ended her journey with a ‘flying trip’ by train across America.
“I only remember my trip across the continent as one maze of happy greetings, happy wishes, congratulations, telegrams, fruit, flowers, loud cheers, wild hurrahs, rapid hand-shaking and a beautiful car filled with fragrant flowers attached to a swift engine that was tearing like mad through flower-dotted valley and over snow-tipped mountain on-on-on! It was glorious!” she wrote.
At stations across America, enormous crowds gathered to cheer Nellie on:Fresno, Topeka, Dodge City, Kansas City, Chicago, Columbus, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia…
At her final destination, Jersey City, “the station was packed with thousands of people and the moment I landed on the platform, one yell went up from them…and the cannons at the Battery and Fort Greene boomed out the news of my arrival,” wrote Nellie. “From Jersey to Jersey is around the world and I am in Jersey now.”
Today she is best known for her record-breaking journey. But even more importantly, Nellie Bly pioneered investigative journalism and paved the way for female reporters.
Let’s pay tribute to the courage and determination of Nellie Bly on the 125th anniversary of the day she stepped off the train in Jersey City … and into history.
This toolkit provides material you can use on Twitter and Facebook to celebrate Nellie’s triumph.
TEN TWEETS & AND A FACEBOOK POST TO CELEBRATE 125th ANNIVERSARY OF NELLIE BLY’S RECORD-BREAKING TRIP
25 January 2015
Let’s get #NellieBly125 trending on twitter. Copy these or write your own. Use the #NellieBly125 hashtag. You can copy and paste the images in this post or look here, they’re in the public domain.
125yrs ago #NellieBly125 was fastest to circle globe.She would’ve set twitter alight.Make it happen now.Pls retweet. http://bitly.com/1xsFo1A
#NellieBly125 pioneered investigative journalism,paved way for women reporters &circled globe fastest 125yrs ago.http://bitly.com/1xsFo1A
Globetrotter #NellieBly125 circled globe in 72 days beating the record 125 years ago today. http://bitly.com/1xsFo1A
If you like, you can add:
@ – author of bio Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist
@ – Women in Journalism,UK
@ – New York Women in Communications,USA
@ – Royal Geographical Society
@explorerstweet – Explorers Connect
Use this, edit it or write your own facebook post.
25 JANUARY 2015: 125th ANNIVERSARY OF NELLIE BLY’S RECORD-BREAKING WORLD TRIP
No-one had ever circled the globe with such speed. Journalist-adventurer Nellie Bly stepped off the train in Jersey City on January 25, 1890 … and into history. She raced through a ‘man’s world’ in 72 days — alone and literally with the clothes on her back — to beat the fictional record set by Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg. She was a global celebrity. Today, she remains one of the top 10 female adventurers. http://bitly.com/1xsFo1A