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Jules Verne

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Jules Gabriel Verne; February 8, 1828 – March 24, 1905) was a French Breton author who pioneered the science-fiction genre. He is best known for novels such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Verne wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before air travel and practical submarines were invented, and before practical means of space travel had been devised. He is the third most translated individual author in the world, according to Index Translationum. Some of his books have been made into films. Verne, along with Hugo Gernsback and H. G. Wells, is often popularly referred to as the "Father of Science Fiction".

Jules Gabriel Verne was born in Nantes, Brittany in France, to Pierre Verne, an attorney, and his wife, Sophie. The eldest of five children, Jules spent his early years at home with his parents in the bustling harbor city of Nantes. The family spent summers in a country house just outside the city, on the banks of the Loire River. Here Verne and his brother Paul would often rent a boat for a Franc a day. The sight of the many ships navigating the river sparked Jules's imagination, as he describes in the autobiographical short story Souvenirs d'Enfance et de Jeunesse. At the age of nine, Jules and Paul, of whom he was very fond, were sent to boarding school at the Saint Donatien College (Petit séminaire de Saint-Donatien). As a child, he developed a great interest in travel and exploration, a passion he showed as a writer of adventure stories and science fiction. His interest in writing often cost him progress in other subjects.

At the boarding school, Verne studied Latin, which he used in his short story Le Mariage de Monsieur Anselme des Tilleuls in the mid 1850s. One of his teachers may have been the French inventor Brutus de Villeroi, professor of drawing and mathematics at the college in 1842, and who later became famous for creating the US Navy's first submarine, the USS Alligator. De Villeroi may have inspired Verne's conceptual design for the Nautilus in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, although no direct exchanges between the two men have been recorded.

Verne's second French biographer, Marguerite Allotte de la Fuye, formulated the rumor that Verne was so fascinated with adventure at an early age that he stowed away on a ship bound for the West Indies, but that Jules's voyage was cut short when he found his father waiting for him at the next port.

On March 9 1886, as Verne was coming home, his twenty-five-year-old nephew, Gaston, shot him with a gun. One bullet missed, but the second entered Verne's left leg, giving him a limp that would not be cured. The incident was hushed up by the media, and Gaston spent the rest of his life in an asylum.

After the deaths of Hetzel and his beloved mother in 1887, Jules began writing darker works. This may partly be due to changes in his personality, but an important factor is the fact that Hetzel's son, who took over his father's business, was not as rigorous in his corrections as Hetzel had been. In 1888, Jules Verne entered politics and was elected town councillor of Amiens, where he championed several improvements and served for fifteen years. In 1905, while ill with diabetes, Verne died at his home, 44 Boulevard Longueville (now Boulevard Jules-Verne). Michel oversaw publication of his novels Invasion of the Sea and The Lighthouse at the End of the World. The "Voyages extraordinaires" series continued for several years afterwards in the same rhythm of two volumes a year. It has later been discovered that Michel Verne had made extensive changes in these stories, and the original versions were published at the end of the 20th century.

In 1863, Jules Verne wrote a novel called Paris in the 20th Century about a young man who lives in a world of glass skyscrapers, high-speed trains, gas-powered automobiles, calculators, and a worldwide communications network, yet cannot find happiness and comes to a tragic end. Hetzel thought the novel's pessimism would damage Verne's then booming career, and suggested he wait 20 years to publish it. Verne put the manuscript in a safe, where it was discovered by his great-grandson in 1989. It was published in 1994.