The celebrated French writer Jules Verne died a hundred years ago today.Along with HG Wells, he is widely credited with having invented science fiction. Many of Verne’s extraordinary literary voyages such 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and the Mysterious Island have a nautical flavour. An exhibition in Paris – The Novel And The Sea – has displayed some of the maritime equipment of his age which fired his imagination. Curator Didier Fremond said the museum wanted to restore the machines, which had so fascinated Jules Verne. He said Verne also distrusted them and that his novels treated progress critically and at times with irony. Verne studied geology, engineering and astronomy in Paris. But it was the sea which captivated him. His parents were from seafaring families and as a child he ran away to be a cabin boy on a merchant ship. He was quickly caught and sent home. He even lived by the sea – on the Bay of the Somme in northern France, while his wife and children remained in the family home in Amiens. It was there he was buried in 1905, aged 77. Capable of predicting scientific development with uncanny accuracy, Verne was a prolific writer – as well as one of France’s most translated authors – able to produce three novels a year. He was also a rebel who refused to go along with his father’s plans for him to be a lawyer. Much, no doubt, to the relief of his legions of fans.
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