Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Nellie Bly// an American legend

    Today is Nellie Bly's 151st birthday. She was born on May 5th, 1864, in Burrell Township, Pennsylvania, to Michael Cochran and Mary Jane Cochran. Her parents named her Elizabeth Jane.

    Nellie Bly's first job working for a newspaper came when she wrote an outraged reply to a column in the Pittsburgh Dispatch, written by the editor Erasmus Wilson (known as 'The Quiet Observer'.) Apparently, Wilson was so amused by her letter that he offered her a job on the newspaper. From Pittsburgh, she eventually became a stunt reporter for the New York World. It was then that she gained wide acclaim for her daring exploits, displaying her resilience by pretending to be insane in order to report on the conditions of Blackwell Island women's lunatic asylum, posing as an unwed mother to expose the baby-buying trade, and then in 1889, she beat Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg by travelling around the world in less than eighty days.

  "Nellie Bly is flying high on the China sea;
With her goes the hope of one who wants to see Paree;
She'll get here in 74, sure as she's alive, 
Hours 12, minutes 10, and seconds 25."

(A jingle someone wrote while Nellie Bly was on her journey-- she actually arrived back in New York in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds.)


   I've always been fascinated with Nellie Bly and the wild stories that surround her iconic name. I admire her in many ways-- for her gumption, her determination, and her will to make a name for herself as one of the first woman reporters in the 19th century. After reading a book on her life a few years ago, I gained a new insight into her as a person. She lived kind of a crazy life-- from surviving two horrible stepfathers, leaving boarding school when she was a teenager, securing herself a job with the most famous newspaper in the country and travelling around the world to marrying a millionaire, becoming an industrialist, inventor, and charity worker. She was definitely a one-of-a-kind lady, and has made her mark on history.

   “Her grit has been more than masculine. … She is coming home to dear old America with the scalps of the carpers and critics strung on her slender girdle, and about her head a monster wreath of laurel and forget-me-nots, as a tribute to American pluck, American womanhood and American perseverance.” 
~ The New York World

"In this age of wonders, one can entertain angels unawares; they may be poor today, tomorrow they may strike oil or work out a patent. Then they will remember who treated them well."
~Nellie Bly

"If I fail, I will never return to New York. I would rather go in dead and successful than alive and behind time."
~Nellie Bly

"Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything."
~Nellie Bly


  1. When I saw the Google Doodle about her I researched her a bit. She was a very fascinating lady!

    ~Lydia~ <3

    1. Lydia,
      I must admit I didn't know it was her birthday until I saw it on Google! Then I pretended like I knew all along, haha. ;-P Yes, she certainly was!

  2. I never heard of Nellie Bly until I heard they based the Broadway Newsies character of Katherine after her. I want to read more about her sometime-she sounds so interesting!

    1. Oooh, I didn't know that! Add to the reasons why I desperately want to watch Newsies. :-) The book I read about her life was fascinating-- she definitely was an interesting person.

    2. Oh, yes, do watch Newsies!! Watch the 1992 movie first, and then you could watch videos and listen to the songs from the Broadway version. They're both phenomenal. :) Katherine isn't in the original movie, though. They added her character for the Broadway show.

  3. Oh Nellie Bly! I first heard of her through Hidden Places, believe it or not. And since then I've always wanted to know more about her. :-)

    She must have been pretty head-turning, for the times, mustn't she have? And she must have written well, being a journalist, so we three share a mutual talent. :-P

    I love her bangs. :-P

    ~ Naomi

    1. I think I first heard of Nellie Bly when I watched a movie that had her in it...it was a rather silly movie, and the character who was supposed to be Nellie Bly was nothing like the real person, but that's the first I remember hearing the name. It was probably Hidden Places that got me really interested in her, though!

      Oh yes, she was quite a figure in her day. :-)


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