Nellie Bly, Win or Die

On January 25, one hundred twenty years ago, World reporter Nellie Bly stepped off a train in Jersey City, New Jersey, and finished her record-breaking race around the world. It had taken her 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds, a time that put her ahead of her competitor, rival reporter Elizabeth Bisland, and more than a week ahead of Phineas Fogg, the character in Jules Vernes’ famous novel, Around the World in 80 Days. She had made the trip alone – a daring feat for a woman in those days – with nothing more than the two suitcases that held her clothes and the pens and pencils she needed to write about her story.

Nellie’s story captivated the American public and made her a household name, but her fame has faded in the years following her death. In her National Geographic children’s book, Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie Bly, writer Sue Macy recounts the colorful life and exploits of this intrepid reporter and suffragist who didn’t shy away from the controversial topics of her day. It’s an entertaining read if you’re not familiar with her story – or even if you are. Plus, a list of resources in the back for those who are interested in finding out more.

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