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ancient travel literature < travel journalism < adventure novel < travelogue documentary < road rules
The idea of a trip around the world within a set period had clear external origins and was popular before Verne published his book in 1872. Even the title Around the World in Eighty Days is not original to Verne. About six sources have been suggested as the origins of the story, as follows:
Greek traveller Pausanias (c. 100 AD) wrote a work that was translated into French in 1797 as Voyage autour du monde ("Aro/aund the World"). Verne's friend, Jacques Arago, had written a very popular Voyage autour du monde in 1853. However in 1869/70 the idea of travelling around the world reached critical popular attention when three geographical breakthroughs occurred: the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in America (1869), the linking of the Indian railways across the sub-continent (1870), and the opening of the Suez Canal (1869). In 1871 appeared Around the World by Steam, via Pacific Railway, published by the Union Pacific Railroad Company, and an Around the World in A Hundred and Twenty Days by Edmond Planchut. Between 1869 and 1871, an American William Perry Fogg went around the world describing his tour in a series of letters to the Cleveland Leader, titled Round the World: Letters from Japan, China, India, and Egypt (1872). Additionally, in early 1870, the Erie Railway Company published a statement of routes, times, and distances detailing a trip around the globe of 23,739 miles in seventy-seven days and twenty-one hours.
In 1872 Thomas Cook organised the first around the world tourist trip, leaving on 20 September 1872 and returning seven months later. The journey was described in a series of letters that were later published in 1873 as Letter from the Sea and from Foreign Lands, Descriptive of a tour Round the World. Scholars have pointed out similarities between Verne's account and Cook's letters, although some argue that Cook's trip happened too late to influence Verne. Verne, according to a second-hand 1898 account, refers to a Thomas Cook advertisement as a source for the idea of his book. In interviews in 1894 and 1904, Verne says the source was "through reading one day in a Paris cafe" and "due merely to a tourist advertisement seen by chance in the columns of a newspaper.” Around the World itself says the origins were a newspaper article. All of these point to Cook's advert as being a probable spark for the idea of the book.
Further, the periodical Le Tour du monde (3 October 1869) contained a short piece entitled "Around the World in Eighty Days", which refers to "140 miles" of railway not yet completed between Allahabad and Bombay, a central point in Verne's work. But even the Le Tour de monde article was not entirely original; it cites in its bibliography the Nouvelles Annales des Voyages, de la Géographie, de l'Histoire et de l'Archéologie (August, 1869), which also contains the title Around the World in Eighty Days in its contents page. The Nouvelles Annales were written by Conrad Malte-Brun (1775—1826) and his son Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun (1816—1889). Scholars believe Verne was aware of either the Le Tour de monde article, or the Nouvelles Annales (or both), and consulted it — the 'Le Tour du monde even included a trip schedule very similar to Verne's final version.
A possible inspiration was the traveller George Francis Train, who made four trips around the world, including one in 80 days in 1870. Similarities include the hiring of a private train and his being imprisoned. Train later claimed "Verne stole my thunder. I'm Phileas Fogg."