“The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the Living Infinite. ”
― Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
On 8 February 1828 one of the greatest science-fiction writers ever to put ink to parchment was born. His name was Jules Gabriel Verne. He was born on a small artificial island called Île Feydeau within the town of Nantes on the Loire River. His father, Pierre Verne, was a lawyer and he expected his son to follow in his footsteps. But it became very clear early in Verne's life that he had little interest in such a vocation. While studying to be a lawyer in Paris, Verne frequently indulged in his passion for writing and theatre by composing several plays. Even though he spent a great deal of time writing plays, poems, and stories, Jules Verne graduated from his law studies in 1851.
It was in the same year, 1851, that Jules Verne met a fellow writer from his home town of Nantes, Pierre-Michel-François Chevalier. Chevalier was the editor-in-chief of the magazine Musée des familles (The Family Museum). He was a great admirer of Verne's research skills and attention to detail. Inspired by Chevalier's interest in his work, Verne wrote and submitted a short historical adventure story The First Ships of the Mexican Navy. It was published in July 1851. A second short story A Voyage in a balloon was published in the next month's August issue. This second story was later described by Verne as...
"...the first indication of the line of novel that I was destined to follow."
As far as writing goes, destiny was very kind to Jules Verne. He wrote over 70 novels and numerous stories, poems and plays. And he is the second-most translated author on the planet behind Agatha Christie.
On 22 November 1982 France issued a beautiful set of two semi-postal Red Cross stamps celebrating the amazing stories of Jules Verne. Both stamps were designed and engraved by Pierre Becquet.
The first stamp has a 1,60f face value with a 0,30f surcharge. It features the novel Five Weeks in a Balloon.
Five Weeks in a Balloon was first published in 1863. The novel follows Dr. Samuel Ferguson, a scholar and explorer, who, accompanied by his manservant Joe, and his friend, professional hunter, Richard "Dick" Kennedy, sets out in a balloon filled with hydrogen on a journey across the African continent, which at that point was still in parts unexplored.
The second stamp has a 1,80f face value with a 0,40f surcharge. It features the novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was originally serialised from March 1869 through June 1870 in the magazine Magasin d’Éducation et de Récréation. The story features Captain Nemo, which is Latin for 'Nobody', and his steam-powered submarine Nautilus.
Until next time...