Jules Verne, a native of Nantes. Pierre Verne, originally from Provins (near Paris) set up as a solicitor in Nantes in 1826 and married a local girl, Sophie Allotte de la Fuÿe the following year. Jules, the eldest of five children, was born on 8th February 1828. His early years were spent on the Feydeau Island in Nantes which at that time was still an island cut off from the city by the Loire river. For the first fourteen years of his life, he lived at 2 Quai Jean-Bart in a house overlooking the confluence of the Loire and Erdre rivers. The family also had a house int he country at Chantenay from where the young Jules could watch the boats pass by on their way to the nearby port. Although Jules did not see the ocean for the first time until he was twelve, islands, ports and ships were already familiar sights to him. The subject of his childhood fantasies, they were later to become favourite themes in many of his works.
31st January 1863. A novelist was born. On that date, an unknown writer’s first novel went on the market, published by Pierre-Jules Hetzel. It was Five Weeks in a Balloon by Jules Verne. While two thousand copies were initially printed, a total of 76,000 copies would be sold in the author’s lifetime. It was to be outsold only by Around the World in Eighty Days which sold 108,000 copies. Jules Verne signed an agreement with Hetzel the following year to deliver two books per year. From 1865 on, three volumes were published every year. When Hetzel passed away in 1886, his son took over and continued publishing the Extraordinary Journeys, reaching 62 titles in 47 volumes. Within the publishing house, Jules Verne was more than a prolific writer. He was also joint editor of Magasin d’éducation et de récréation, a periodical created by Hetzel and Jean Macé intended to offer families a serious and attractive learning tool, agreeable to parents as well as beneficial to children.
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