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Jules VerneWhen Jules Verne's book Around the World in Eighty Days was published in 1873 the world was at a stage of rapid industrial development.
Around the World in Eighty Days - What would Phileas Fogg and Passepartout have seen?
Only a few years earlier the Suez Canal had been opened greatly reducing the time required to travel from Western Europe to India and the Far East. On 10 May 1869 the rails were joined at Promontary Summit for the Transcontinental railway in the United States. The railway station in Yokohama opened in 1872 symbolizing the immense changes in Japan which had been closed to foreigners until the Black Ships of Admiral Perry arrived in 1853. Emmigration and immigration during this period was enormous and ships such as the S/S Manhattan of the Guion Line crossed from Liverpool to New York six times between 1870-1872 and companies like the Pacific Mail Steamship company plied the routes between San Francisco, Panama, Yokohama, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The times were far from tranquil: Lieutenant Camus had been killed in Japan in 1868 by Samurai who objected to the presence of foreigners; San Francisco had an earthquake also in 1868, and between 1870 and 1871 there were the Orange Riots in New York. The bison mentioned in the novel were being exterminated in the US and the Battle of the Little Bighorn would happen only a few years later in 1876 changing the ways of the Plains Indians forever.
The setting for this online exhibition is the two and a half months from 2nd October 1872 until 21st December 1872 as the fictional Phileas Fogg and his valet Passepartout circumnavigate the globe to win a wager of £20,000. This exhibition follows the approximate route they took and shows the places as they were when the fictional pair passed through. The exact route has not been slavishly followed, nor have the exact dates, but rather they are explored through the visual remains of a long gone world.
Following the popularity of Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne the adventurous journalist Nellie Bly set out in 1889 to prove that the journey was viable. Supported by her newspaper, the New York World she completed the trip within 72 days and her book, Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, was also a best seller.