A man before his time

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 February, 2011, 12:00am

Father of Science Fiction

Yesterday was the birthday of the man known as the 'Father of Science Fiction'. Jules Verne wrote about things that seem perfectly normal today. But he was writing about things like planes and submarines long before they had really been invented.


Jules Gabriel Verne was born on February 8, 1828, in Nantes, France. His father was a lawyer. He thought Jules was going to be a lawyer as well. He was sad when he discovered Jules was writing novels. Verne did manage to pass his law degree. He died in 1905.

Into the future

Verne put his thoughts into the future. At that time people could not believe what he described would come true. But, his dreams of undersea and air travel have become everyday realities. In 1863 he wrote of tall glass buildings, gas-powered cars, calculators and a worldwide communications network.

Pierre-Jules Hetzel

Hetzel was an important French publisher. He helped Verne with his books. Hetzel asked Verne to be more positive in his writing. He decided that the heroes should live happily. This made the books more popular. Hetzel and Verne worked well together for more than 40 years. They produced more than 60 works in the Voyages series.


Verne's books were not very popular in English. The translations were not good. They were re-translated into English from 1965. His books have been translated into more than 140 languages.


Many of Verne's books were made into films. These started in 1916 with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea then The Mysterious Island (1929 and 1961), From the Earth to the Moon (1958), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959 and 2008), and, the most popular, Around the World in 80 Days (1956).

Now do this

Match up the characters to the stories:

1 Five Weeks in a Balloon

2 Journey to the Centre of the Earth

3 From the Earth to the Moon

4 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

5 Around the World in 80 Days

6 The Mysterious Island

a. Captain Nemo

b. Phileas Fogg

c. Dr Samuel Ferguson

d. Captain Syrus Smith

e. Professor Lidenbrock

f. Impey Barbicane

Answers: 1. c, 2. e, 3. f, 4. a, 5. b, 6. d