Verne, Jules (1828-1905), French author, who is often regarded as the father of science fiction. He was born in Nantes, France, and ran away to sea at the age of 11. After he was sent home in disgrace, he vowed to travel only in his imagination. He carried out this pledge in more than 50 works that combine scientific fantasy and exciting adventure.
Verne studied law in Paris, and from 1848 until 1863 wrote opera librettos and plays. His interest in science and geographical discovery led him to write on the possibility of exploring Africa in a balloon. Many publishers rejected this work, until one publisher suggested he rewrite it in the form of an adventure story. The result was Cinq semaines en ballon (1863; Five Weeks in a Balloon, 1869). Its success encouraged Verne to write other tales of adventure in distant lands. He based them on his wide reading.
Verne rode a wave of 19th-century interest in science and invention to enormous popular favor. Laying a carefully documented scientific foundation for his fantastic adventure stories, he forecast with remarkable accuracy many scientific achievements of the 20th century. He anticipated flights into outer space, submarines, helicopters, air conditioning, guided missiles, and motion pictures long before they were developed.
Verne’s best-known work is Le tour du monde en quatre-vingt jours (1873; Around the World In Eighty Days, 1873). The book’s hero is Phileas Fogg, an English gentleman noted for his cool-headedness and ingenuity. During a discussion at his London club, Fogg bets that he can travel around the world in 80 days, a seemingly impossible task at that time. He is accompanied on the journey by his French valet, Passepartout, and by Detective Fix, who has been sent by the club to observe his progress. During their adventures in many parts of the world, Fogg masters every obstacle with unflappable ease. He completes the journey with ten minutes to spare.
Among his other classic books are Voyage au centre de la terre (1864; Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1874); De la terre à la lune (1865; From the Earth to the Moon, 1873); Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (1870; Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1873); and L’île mysterieuse (1870; Mysterious Island, 1875). Verne’s works have been the source of many films, beginning in 1902 with Le voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) by the pioneering French film director Georges Méliès. Around the World in 80 Days was made into a highly successful movie in 1956.