French author Jules Verne was born in the port of Nantes in 1828. He later moved to Paris to study law. At age twenty-eight, he married Honorine de Viane, a young widow with two children. Verne published several plays under the tutelage of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. He made his living as a stockbroker until his first successful series, Voyages Extraordinaire, was published in 1863. Soon Verne's novels became enormously popular around the world. Without a scientific background or experiences as a traveler, Verne spent much of his time doing research for his books. However, when the logic of the story contradicted scientific knowledge, Verne took poetic license with science to serve his fast-paced adventures.
Verne's stories caught the spirit of the nineteenth century and its uncritical enthusiasm about scientific progress and invention. His works were often written in the form of a travel book taking the readers on fantastic voyages. Many of Verne's ideas have been hailed as prophetic, predicting some of the inventions that have changed our world, including the airplane, the submarine, and spacecraft. He published sixty-five novels, some twenty short stories and essays, thirty plays, an opera libretto and two geographical works.
In the first part of his career Verne expressed optimism about progress and Europe's central role in the social and technical development of the world. In Verne's later novels, the author's pessimism is reflected in the doom-laden fin-de-siècle atmosphere. In contrast to the adventurous spirit of his novels, Verne's personal life was relatively uneventful, with the exception of his surviving a murder attempt by his insane nephew. Verne died of natural causes in Amiens on March 24, 1905.